Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcast: Die Fledermaus
Transmission of Saturday, December 31, 1:00 P.M.
John Brownlee, Risë Stevens, Patrice Munsel and Nana Gollner in Act II of Die Fledermaus, 1950
Sedge Leblang/OPERA NEWS Archives
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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
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,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
For more information on the broadcasts,
Send quiz questions to:
Metropolitan Opera Quiz
30 Lincoln Center
New York, NY 10023,
This performance is also being broadcast live
on Metropolitan Opera Radio
on SiriusXM channel 74.
Hit of the show: Munsel as Adele
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.
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