Broadcast

Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Die Fledermaus 

Transmission of Saturday, December 31, 1:00 P.M.

Broadcast Fledermaus HDL 1211
John Brownlee, Risë Stevens, Patrice Munsel and Nana Gollner in Act II of Die Fledermaus, 1950
Sedge Leblang/OPERA NEWS Archives

 

The 2011–12 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by 
Toll Brothers, America’s luxury home builder®,
with generous long-term support from 
The Annenberg Foundation and 
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media, 
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
 
Die Fledermaus  

Music by Johann Strauss, Jr.
Libretto by Carl Haffner and Richard Genée
English translation by Garson Kanin and Howard Dietz
Historic Broadcast of January 20, 1951  
THE CAST     (in order of vocal appearance) 
Dr. Falke     baritone, JOHN BROWNLEE
Alfred     tenor, RICHARD TUCKER
Adele     soprano, PATRICE MUNSEL
Rosalinde     soprano, MARGUERITE PIAZZA
Gabriel von Eisenstein
    tenor, CHARLES KULLMAN
Dr. Blind     tenor, PAUL FRANKE
Frank     baritone, HUGH THOMPSON
Ida     dancer, NANA GOLLNER
Prince     Orlofsky mezzo, RISË STEVENS
Frosch     actor, JACK GILFORD
 
Conducted by EUGENE ORMANDY
 
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
 
Production: Garson Kanin
Set & costume designer: Rolf Gérard
Choreography: Anthony Tudor
Chorus master: Kurt Adler
THE SCENES  
    A spa near Vienna, late 19th c.
ACT     I Eisenstein's drawing room
ACT     II Prince Orlofsky's villa
ACT     III Inside the jail
 
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
    William Berger
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni, 
    Elena Park
 
For more information on the broadcasts, 
please visit www.operainfo.org.
 
Send quiz questions to:
    Metropolitan Opera Quiz
    Metropolitan Opera
    30 Lincoln Center
    New York, NY 10023, 
    or e-mail metquiz@metopera.org.
 
This performance is also being broadcast live 
    on Metropolitan Opera Radio
    on SiriusXM channel 74.

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Hit of the show: Munsel as Adele
Bender photography

Die Fledermaus had been absent from the Met's repertory for forty-five years when Rudolf Bing — then in his first season as general manager — decided to mount a new English-language production of Johann Strauss II's 1874 farce, one of the treasures of Vienna's "golden age" of operetta. Garson Kanin (1912–99), an American playwright, screenwriter and director with an impressive string of credits in the theater (Born Yesterday) and in Hollywood (My Favorite Wife, Adam's Rib), provided the Met with snappy, Broadway-style staging and dialogue; Howard Dietz (1896–1983), co-author of more than a dozen Broadway musicals and revues, wrote the new Fledermaus lyrics. Eugene Ormandy (1899–1985), music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted.

Kanin's Fledermaus, which had its premiere in December 1950, was a huge success for the Met, with nineteen sold-out performances in New York and another twelve on tour. The singer who made the hit of the show was Spokane-born Patrice Munsel (b. 1925), perfectly cast as the saucy chambermaid Adele. Most of the ensemble for the January 1951 Fledermaus broadcast were veterans of the Kanin staging's premiere, with the exception of the Rosalinde and the Eisenstein — Louisianan soprano Marguerite Piazza (b. 1926), then in her first and only season on the Met roster, and Connecticut-born lyric tenor Charles Kullman (1903–83), whose 421 Met performances in twenty-five seasons included forty-two Eisensteins.

Risë Stevens (b. 1913), one of the Met's most glamorous stars, was Kanin’s Prince Orlofsky; this broadcast marks the last of Stevens's six Met performances of the role, which she disliked. American tenor Richard Tucker (1913–75), cast as the ardent Alfred, also had a limited association with Fledermaus, which accounted for just six of his 738 Met performances. Australian John Brownlee (1900–69), a Met baritone since 1937, was a more regular Fledermaus presence, with a total of fifty-eight turns as the wily Dr. Falke in New York and on tour. Kanin’s first Frosch was the incomparable Jack Gilford (1908–90), who eventually appeared in seventy-seven Met Fledermaus performances and directed the Met's 1967 revival of the operetta. spacer 

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