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Eisenstein is due to begin a short prison term for a civil offense. While he is away at a court hearing, his wife Rosalinde is being serenaded by Alfred, a hot-blooded tenor. The maid, Adele, pretends she has a sick aunt, in order to get the night off to attend Prince Orlofsky’s ball. Rosalinde gets rid of Alfred, promising he can return later. Eisenstein arrives with his lawyer, Dr. Blind, who is told off for his incompetence and sent away. Dr. Falke, an old friend of Eisenstein’s, arrives and convinces Eisenstein to attend Orlofsky’s ball instead of reporting to jail. With the house empty Rosalinde receives Alfred again. The prison warden, Frank, arrives to pick up Eisenstein to serve his short prison term. Rosalinde is anxious to protect her reputation and passes off Alfred as her husband. Frank takes Alfred to jail.
Falke reveals to Orlofsky that the entire party is an elaborate ploy he calls “the bat’s revenge.” Adele is introduced to Orlofsky as an actress named Olga, while Eisenstein poses as Marquis Renard. Eisenstein is ridiculed when he notes that Olga looks just like his maid. Frank, the prison governor, is also at the party under the alias of Chevalier Chagrin. Rosalinde enters the party disguised as a masked Hungarian countess. Eisenstein flirts with her and Rosalinde manages to steal his watch as evidence of his philandering. The crowd is enthralled with Rosalinde when she sings a Hungarian song, and they urge her to remove her mask. Orlofsky intervenes and Rosalinde can remain hidden. Eisenstein proudly recounts an incident when he attended a costume ball and left an intoxicated Falke, who was dressed as a bat, asleep on a city bench instead of taking him home as promised. The party continues with toasting and drinking. As the clock strikes six, Frank and Eisenstein stagger off in a drunken embrace.
Frank returns to his office in a giddy state. Adele arrives with her sister. She admits to Frank that she has misled him about being an actress, but she appeals to the “Chevalier” to help her in her career. Eisenstein arrives at the prison to begin his sentence only to be told that an Eisenstein is already serving his term. Frosch, the jailer, is sent to retrieve the imprisoned Eisenstein. Dr. Blind arrives and Eisenstein takes on his identity in order to interrogate the false prisoner. When Rosalinde arrives, Eisenstein interrogates them both, becoming so angry he finally throws off his disguise. His moral outrage is compromised when Rosalinde presents his watch, evidence of his attempted seduction of the mysterious Hungarian countess. Orlofsky and all the party guests arrive at the prison house, including Falke, who reveals that the entire charade was his doing to exact “the bat’s revenge” on Eisenstein. Eisenstein takes the joke in good spirit and everyone agrees that champagne is ultimately to blame for any perceived transgressions.
(centre, l – r) Tamara Wilson as Rosalinde, Michael Schade as Gabriel von Eisenstein and Ambur Braid (kneeling) as Adele in the Canadian Opera Company’s new production of Die Fledermaus, 2012. Photo: Chris Hutcheson © 2012
This new COC production has been generously underwritten by the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation.