What's it all about?
With a story that could be ripped from the tabloids, or at least from reality television, Die Fledermaus is best summed up as a comedic operetta about rich people being naughty.
The story revolves around Gabriel von Eisenstein, a self-made man who, upon verbally abusing a police officer, is sentenced to spend eight days in jail. And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the party of the year is set to occur the very night he’s to march himself to prison. So what does Eisenstein do? He lies to his wife, pretends to leave for prison early but attends the party instead.
But the deception does not end there! Eisenstein’s long-suffering wife, Rosalinde, is being pursued by an ex-lover and finding it hard to refuse him. Meanwhile her maid Adele is dead-set on attending the party despite her mistress’s orders, and Eisenstein’s old friend Dr. Falke seems to have a trick or two up his sleeve and revenge on his mind. The scene is set for an evening of drinking, dancing and debauchery.
At the end of the day, Die Fledermaus is a hilarious romp of mistaken identity fueled by champagne, ego and hubris, with a happy ending for all!
Why is it special?
Due to its light nature, witty libretto and dazzling, hummable melodies that stay with you after a performance, Die Fledermaus is one of the most memorable nights you can have at the opera. The music is infectious, the ball is grandiose and the characters are outrageous, yet relatable. Ultimately, Die Fledermaus is the perfect example of an operatic farce, complete with romantic diversions and glamorous costumes.
What is operetta?
Operetta is a sub-genre of opera that emerged from the opéra comique style of performance in France in the mid-19th century. Both genres are defined by their unified use of song and spoken dialogue. Operettas usually contain light and fluffy subject matter and also are regarded as the predecessor of contemporary musical theatre.
Who was Johann Strauss II?
Johann Strauss II was an Austrian waltz composer who struggled early in his career due to an unfortunate rivalry with his controlling father, Johann Strauss I, the "Waltz King." Upon his father's death, Johann Strauss II's career as a composer and a conductor flourished, he inherited father's title and became extremely sought after in Europe and the United States. A full composer biography can be read here.
When did it premiere?
Die Fledermaus debuted in Vienna in 1874 and was released the same year as Verdi's Requiem and Camille Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre. The work was quickly translated and performed in London in 1876 and is currently one of the top 20 most performed operas in the world. For more historical information, click here.
What are the most memorable musical moments?
So muss allein ich bleiben — This overly dramatic, tongue-in-cheek aria features Rosalinde singing her heart out to Eisenstein, exaggerating about how much she will miss him when he's in jail. Watch it here.
Mein Herr Marquis — Also known as Adele's Laughing Song, this is one of the most famous pieces from Die Fledermaus and the tone can vary from dismissive and witty, to saucy and flirtatious. Watch it here.
For more music, visit the listening guide for Die Fledermaus.
What will it look like?
Our fall performance of Die Fledermaus is a brand new COC production. Director Christopher Alden, set designer Allen Moyer and costume designer Constance Hoffman combine their talents to create a fantasy world of madcap lunacy and bubbling champagne, set in elegant, early 20th-century Vienna. Director Alden and Moyer last worked together at the COC for The Flying Dutchman in 2010, a production that received accolades for its impressive visuals and design. Alden was also seen at the helm of Rigoletto last fall and Moyer’s sets brought the seventies alive with Nixon in China in 2011.
Who is starring in it?
The cast of Die Fledermaus is a familiar crew of COC favourites.
Tenor Michael Schade, no stranger to the Canadian Opera Company, makes his role debut as the charming and roguish Eisenstein. Michael was most recently seen as Tamino, wooing Isabel Bayrakdarian's Pamina in the 2011 production of The Magic Flute.
Tamara Wilson, who was our delightfully bitter Elettra in Idomeneo in 2010, returns to the COC as Rosalinde, the wife with a trick or two up her sleeves.
Laura Tucker, a mezzo-soprano who was last with us as Schwertleite in Die Walküre in 2004 returns as the ostentatious party host, Prince Orlofsky.
Ensemble Studio members Ambur Braid and Mireille Asselin will share the
role of the plucky maid Adele. The two sopranos recently shared the title role in the Ensemble Studio performance of Semele.
Rounding out the cast, Rosalinde's lovesick paramour Alfred will be played by David Pomeroy who performed as Hoffmann in the COC's The Tales of Hoffmann last spring.
Photo: Preliminary costume sketch of the characters of Adele (top), a chorus girl (middle), and Rosalinde (bottom) by Constance Hoffman for the COC's production of Die Fledermaus, 2012.
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001