Kamische Operette in three acts in German
Music by Johann Strauss, Jr.
Libretto by Carl Haffner & Richard Genee
Conductor Ward Stare
Stage Direction by E. Loren Meeker
Choreographer Daniel Pelzig
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago
Gorgeous, lush and humorous new-to-Chicago production of Die Fledermaus waltzes into our hearts
The waltz king, Johann Strauss, Jr.’s 1874 Kamische Operette, Die Fledermaus, now in a stellar tuneful production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, never look finer, sang better, and contained such humor-and- such terrific dancing as this fabulous production demonstrates. I have seen Die Fledermaus many times but this production is the finest one I’ve seen!
Of course, the rich, lush, infectiously memorable score by Johann Strauss, Jr. sets the melodic tone with the smooth Viennese waltzes. But Die Fledermaus is also a funny, playful comic operetta featuring a collection of duplicitous characters bent on having good times and some romance despite being in committed reltionships. Led by the scoundrel Gabriel von Eisenstein (baritone Bo Skovhus) and his friend Dr. Falks (baritone Adrian Erod), the adventurous fellows are bent on attending Russinan Prince Orlofsky’s (mezzo-soprano Emily Fons) party. Problem: Gabriel is scheduled to be incarcerated for a few days for a minor infraction. But he wants to attend the Prince’s party.
Alfred (tenor Michael Spyres) is trying to woo Rosalinde Eisenstein (soprano Juliane Banse) into an affair while the parlormaid Adele (soprano Daniela Fally) schemes to get the night off to attend Orlofsky’s party with her sister Ida (mezzo-soprano Julie Anne Miller).
When the jailor Frank (baritone Andrew Shore) arrives to take Gabriel into custody, Rosalinde gets Alfred to impersonate Gabriel which results in Alfred being jailed as Gabriel.
Act two features the fabulous party at Orlofsky’s villa. This wonderful visual, tuneful and rhythmic act features much comedy. In one of them most memorable acts in the operetta cannon, the toe-tapping Strauss score comes alive featuring the impressive folk-infused dances that range from Austrian/German to Hungarian to manic Russian folk dances to augment the lush Viennese waltzes. The choreography is breathtaking! (choreography by Daniel Pelzig). The highlight of this fabulous act is the celebratory champagne toast. The costumes in this production standout as much as the music and the rich vocals.
In this act, we see how Viennese native Daniela Fally, with her sparkling smile and acting chops, deftly plays (and sings) the bubbly maid Adele. Miss Fally charms into our hearts. While the devilish Eisenstein’s robust baritone from Bo Skovhus leads the way, Andrew Shore’s comic chops produced many laughs. Michael Spyes’ Alfred and Julliane Banse’ Rosalinde connect sparks as each scheme their delights.
The comedy increases in act three until deception is resolved as this fable of narcissistic opulence makes sure each gets their comeuppance. The vaudevillian brilliance of Die Fledermaus is present from the start as we smile (and laugh) throughout the tuneful adventure into 19th Century Viennese society with this group of scoundrels. Kudos to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for mounting such a delightful rousing production of the most popular operetta of all-time. I know at least one newbie to opera that was impressed by the sheer spectacle of the art form. This is a worthy way of introducing folks to the splendors of opera – even in a light form.
At the Lyric Opera of Chicago, running time is 3 hours and 30 minutes with 2 intermission, tickets $34 – $244,www.lyricopera.org,