Metropolitan Opera Broadcast: Die Fledermaus
Radio Broadcast of Saturday, January 11, 1 P.M.
Robert Jones's sets for Act I of the Met's new Die Fledermaus, directed by Jeremy Sams
Beth Bergman/Metropolitan Opera
The 2013–14 Metropolitan Opera broadcast season is sponsored by
Toll Brothers, America's luxury home builder®, with generous long-term support from
The Annenberg Foundation, The Neubauer Family Foundation,
the Vincent A. Stabile Endowment for Broadcast Media,
and through contributions from listeners worldwide.
Music by Johann Strauss, Jr.
Original libretto by Carl Haffner and Richard Genée, based on the vaudeville Le Réveillon, by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy
English lyrics by Jeremy Sams
Dialogue by Douglas Carter Beane
THE CAST (in order of vocal appearance)
Alfred tenor, MICHAEL FABIANO
Adele soprano, CHRISTINE SCHÄFER
Rosalinde soprano, SUSANNA PHILLIPS
Gabriel von Eisenstein baritone,
Dr. Blind tenor, MARK SCHOWALTER
Dr. Falke baritone, PAULO SZOT
Frank bass-bar., PATRICK CARFIZZI
Ida soprano, BETSY WOLFE
Prince Orlofsky countertenor, ANTHONY
Ivan actor, JASON SIMON
Frosch actor, DANNY BURSTEIN
Guests at Orlofsky's ball
Rolf Gruber baritone, EARLE PATRIARCO
Natalie soprano, MARIA D'AMATO
Hermine sop., ANNE NONNEMACHER
Melanie mezzo, ANDREA COLEMAN
Max Detweiller bass, TIMOTHY BREESE
Freddy tenor, NATHAN CARLISLE
Herr Jakob Schmidt ten., JEFFREY MOSHER
Faustine soprano, JEAN BRAHAM
Conducted by ADAM FISCHER
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
The Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Production: Jeremy Sams
Set and costume designer: Robert Jones
Lighting designer: Jennifer Schriever
Choreographer: Stephen Mear
Chorus master: Donald Palumbo
|Musical preparation: Dennis Giauque,
Donna Racik, Paul Nadler, Dan Saunders,
Assistant stage directors: Eric Einhorn,
Jonathon Loy, Sarah Ina Meyers
English coach: Erie Mills
Prompter: Donna Racik
Production a gift of The Sybil B. Harrington
Endowment Fund; and Howard Solomon,
in honor of his wife, Sarah Billinghurst
|THE SCENES || || Timings (ET) |
| ||(Vienna, New Year's|
|ACT I||Eisenstein's house||1:00–1:55|
|ACT II||Prince Orlofsky's ballroom||2:25–3:16|
|ACT III||At the prison||3:46–4:35|
Host: Margaret Juntwait
Commentator: Ira Siff
Music producer: Jay David Saks
Producers: Mary Jo Heath, Ellen Keel,
Executive producers: Mia Bongiovanni,
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This performance is also being broadcast on
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ACT I. Through the windows of the home of Gabriel von Eisenstein, a tenor voice is heard. Eisenstein's wife, Rosalinde, is the object of the serenade. Her maid, Adele, comes into the salon, reading an invitation from her sister to a party at the home of Prince Orlofsky. When Rosalinde appears, Adele invents a sick aunt and asks for the evening off. Rosalinde says no: her husband is due to start a brief stay in jail for fighting with a policeman, and she doesn't want to be alone. Having recognized the voice of Alfred, who once courted her at a spa in Bohemia, Rosalinde is startled at his entering her home now that she is married. She sends him off, though he insists he will return. Eisenstein arrives with his lawyer, Dr. Blind, whose bungling has earned his client a longer jail sentence. Blind leaves. Dr. Falke, a friend of Eisenstein's, arrives and, while Rosalinde is out of the room, invites Eisenstein to Orlofsky's party, saying he can begin his jail term the next morning. Falke suggests that Eisenstein bring along his repeater stopwatch, which charms all the ladies. Rosalinde returns, mystified that her husband seems cheerful and has donned formal dress to go to prison. Meanwhile, she tells Adele to take the evening off after all, then bids Eisenstein a sorrowful farewell. No sooner is she alone than Alfred returns, sees the table set for two and opens the wine. Their tête-à-tête is interrupted by the jail warden, Frank. Rosalinde pretends Alfred is her husband, leaving him no choice but to go with the warden.
Costume designs by Robert Jones for Ida in the Met's
new Die Fledermaus
Costume designs by Robert Jones
ACT II. At Prince Orlofsky's villa, Adele, meeting her sister Ida, is surprised to learn that Ida did not send the invitation. Orlofsky enters, bored, hoping to be amused by a prank, "The Bat's Revenge," that Falke is planning. It was Falke who wrote to Adele, and he introduces her as the actress "Mlle. Olga." A "Marquis Renard," who turns out to be Eisenstein, is announced, and Orlofsky explains that he expects his guests to match him drink for drink. His motto is "Chacun à son goût." Eisenstein recognizes Adele in his wife's evening gown, and she in turn challenges his alias. Frank, the prison warden, arrives under the alias "Chevalier Chagrin," thickening Falke's plot. Now Rosalinde, also summoned by Falke, appears, masked, as a Hungarian countess. When she sees her husband flirting with her maid, she nearly drops her disguise. Falke introduces her to "Renard," who lures her with his famous repeater watch. Asking him to take her pulse, she pockets the watch, then — to show she is Hungarian — launches into a czardas. Falke tells the guests the story of his adventure as "Die Fledermaus" (The Bat): three years ago, when he and the "Marquis" shared a bachelor existence, they went to a costume ball, after which the latter abandoned Falke, still wearing his bat costume, in the middle of a park. He was awakened the next morning by passersby, who laughingly christened him "Dr. Bat." Orlofsky proposes a toast to champagne, the king of wines. As Eisenstein tipsily befriends Frank, Falke urges everyone to address one another with the familiar "du" and share a spirit of affection. Eisenstein tries to unmask the countess, but when the clock strikes six, he must hurry to jail.
ACT III. In jail, Alfred persists in singing, to the annoyance of the tipsy jailer, Frosch. Frank arrives, none too steady himself, and is soon asleep over a newspaper. He is awakened by Frosch, who ushers in two unexpected callers, Ida and Adele. Reminding Frank of his earlier attentions, Adele says she would like his help in launching her stage career and proceeds to show off her thespian skills. When "Marquis Renard" is announced, Frank shows the girls to a waiting room. Eisenstein appears, and the men admit their identities. When Rosalinde is announced, Frank excuses himself, and the real Eisenstein greets his lawyer, Blind, with whom he hastily changes clothes. Blind has been summoned by Alfred, who comes out of the cell to meet him but finds Eisenstein instead, disguised as the lawyer. Rosalinde enters, not recognizing her husband and wondering what sort of explanation to make so as not to compromise herself. Learning of Alfred's supper with his wife the evening before, Eisenstein is outraged. Rosalinde retorts that her husband was out on the town himself. Eisenstein sheds his disguise. When she produces the watch, however, he realizes she was the "Hungarian countess." Checkmated, he looks up to see Falke arriving with other guests from the party, hailing "The Bat's Revenge." Eisenstein now believes his wife's tête-à-tête with Alfred was part of the prank, so he can forgive her, asking her forgiveness as well. Orlofsky declares he will underwrite Adele's career, and everyone repeats the joyous toast to King Champagne.
Robert Jones's sets for Act II of the Met's new Die Fledermaus, directed by Jeremy Sams
Beth Bergman/Metropolitan Opera
Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825–99), Vienna's "Waltz King," sketched out all of Die Fledermaus in forty-three days. His third operetta and most enduring stage success, it was drawn from Le Réveillon, a French vaudeville based on a German comedy of manners, Das Gefängnis (The Prison, 1851), by Julius Roderich Benedix. The authors of the French version, Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, had served Offenbach many times. Die Fledermaus, a free translation of their comedy, was commissioned by the director of Vienna's Theater an der Wien. The adapters were two Prussians, Carl Haffner and Richard Genée, who had lived in Vienna and absorbed the city's style.
Costume designs by Robert Jones for Rosalinde
in the Met's new Die Fledermaus
Costume designs by Robert Jones
First produced at the Theater an der Wien on April 5, 1874, Die Fledermaus enjoyed fair success but only sixteen performances; Austria was in the throes of a depression. By 1880, however, the work had been played on 170 German stages and had undergone translation and adaptation in many countries. It reached New York on November 21, 1874, and the Metropolitan Opera on February 16, 1905. The Met premiere was a "director's benefit" for the company's general manager, Heinrich Conried. Tickets were priced at double the usual cost, due to the presence in the Act II party scene of all of the top stars on the Met roster. (See "Guests in the House," p. 29.)
Die Fledermaus had been absent from the Met repertory for forty-five years when a new production by Garson Kanin was introduced in 1950, sung in an English translation credited to Kanin and lyricist Howard Dietz and conducted by Eugene Ormandy. The operetta received thirty-one Met performances in the first season of the Kanin staging, which also spawned a national tour and a television presentation on Omnibus. The Kanin production remained in service through the 1966–67 season.
The Met's next staging of Die Fledermaus arrived in 1986, directed by Otto Schenk, and remained present in periodic revivals through the 2005–06 season. The company's current staging, by Jeremy Sams, had its premiere on December 31, 2013, with Adam Fischer conducting.
Costume designs by Robert Jones for Eisenstein in
the Met's new Die Fledermaus
Costume designs by Robert Jones
WHAT TO READ AND HEAR
Richard Traubner's Operetta: A Theatrical History, first published in 1983, remains the best introduction to Johann Strauss and his impact on the world of operetta. It is available in a revised edition in paperback (Routledge) and in a Kindle edition.
On CD, the 1971 performance led by Willi Boskovsky (EMI) has first-class energy and authentic Viennese charm, plus a superlative cast headed by Anneliese Rothenberger, Nicolai Gedda and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Herbert von Karajan's 1955 recording (EMI), with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf as Rosalinde, is a singularly elegant, sophisticated performance. Clemens Krauss's 1950 Decca performance with the Vienna Philharmonic remains a classic and has been reissued on several labels. The Philips set conducted by André Previn features Kiri Te Kanawa in glorious form as Rosalinde.
On DVD, Stephen Lawless's Glyndebourne Festival staging, recorded in 2003, has all the proper fizziness, with a lively ensemble led by Vladimir Jurowski (Kultur). A 1980 Fledermaus from Vienna, led by Theodor Guschlbauer and directed by Otto Schenk, is a good option for traditionalists.
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