The Peabody Opera Theatre presents

Die Fledermaus

music by Johann Strauss II

text by Karl Haffner abd Richard Genée

after Le Reveillon by Meilhac and Halévy

Hajime Teri Murai, music director

conducting the Peabody Concert Orchestra

Roger Brunyate, stage director and designer

Douglas Nelson, lighting designer

Eileen Cornett, principal coach

Wednesday–Saturday, March 10–13, 2010 at 7:30 PM
Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall
Peabody Conservatory of Music
1 East Mt. Vernon Place
Baltimore, Maryland
Admission $25 / Seniors $15 / Students with ID $10
Box Office: 410/659-8100 x2, or book online
Peabody Opera home

Strauss Monument in Vienna
The Strauss Monument in Vienna

Die Fledermaus simply means “the bat,” but that does not get us much further, since no bat actually appears onstage (except, in this production, as a visual motif dominating the set). The bat incident occurred some years earlier when Gabriel von Eisenstein, as a young bachelor on the town, abandoned his friend Falke in a public park to sleep off his intoxication after a costume ball, his bat costume making him the laughing-stock of the local urchins. Now Eisenstein is a respectable married man and Falke, who has become a society doctor, feels it is time to take his revenge. So he gets him invited to another ball, at the home of the fabulously wealthy Prince Orlofsky. Eisenstein is due to report to jail that night to serve a minor sentence, and his wife Rosalinda originally believes he is going straight there. But Falke adds to the fun by inviting Adele, the Eisenstein’s maid, and Frank, the prison director, both of whom arrive in disguise, as does Eisenstein, posing as a French Marquis. As a crowning touch, he invites Rosalinda also, who comes as a Hungarian Countess, heavily masked. At the height of the ball, Eisenstein finds himself attempting to seduce his own wife, in total ignorance of her identity. But Rosalinda is not entirely guiltless either, as her fidelity has already been tested by the sudden arrival of a flame from earlier days, the opera singer Alfredo. All parties meet up again the next morning at the city jail, wiser if rather the worse for wear.

French poster  
Poster of French Adaptation
From the time of its first performance in 1874, the work has established itself as the epitome of the operetta genre. Viennese operetta at that, although its immediate source was French—a stage play by Meilhac and Halévy, who the next year would go on to write the libretto for Bizet’s Carmen. The nature of its comedy is essentially French, though translated by Strauss in much the same way as Mozart had transformed another French comedy a century before in turning to Beaumarchais for his Marriage of Figaro. This is unashamedly a farce, but nonetheless an extraordinarily effective play that is far more than the minimal dialogue needed to link musical numbers. Both musically and dramatically, the comparison with Mozart is apt. Both composers write for ensembles rather than soloists. There are only four arias in this entire score (two for Adele and one each for Rosalinda and Orlofsky), although there are brief solo passages throughout; the entire first act, like the first part of Mozart’s Così fan tutte, is a brilliant sequence of ensembles. Both composers offer a gallery of fallible characters who are neither good nor bad, but are flawed like the rest of us. I find it significant that an opera which is so much about adultery does not actually contain any; even in the climactic trio towards the end of Act III (a masterpiece of opera buffa writing), all three characters are equally guilty, and by the same token equally innocent.

  Collage by Roger Brunyate
Most people, thinking of Johann Strauss and Fledermaus, picture gaiety and celebration, a gala ball that never ends. I myself am more aware of an underlying melancholy, a yearning for an ideal of happiness that one already knows can never be recaptured. I may be alone in being unable to hear a Strauss waltz without sadness, but the note of yearning sounds unmistakably from Alfredo’s serenade at the start of the opera, through Rosalinda’s Csárdás, to reach its epitome in Falke’s great toast to Brotherhood in the Act II finale. This starts as an invitation to pleasure and ends in an awareness of our common humanity. Fledermaus is not a young person’s opera; it is written out of an awareness that even marriage can grow stale, and that people sometimes have to settle for less than they had dreamed. By adopting disguises, the characters get to live out lives denied to them in reality. But dreams do occasionally come true, and even a stale marriage can be renewed. Roger Brunyate

Principal Singers

Singers listed first appear in the Wednesday and Friday performances.
Passing the cursor over singer’s names will show any previous roles.
Gabriel von Eisenstein   Stephen Campbell
Jayson Greenberg
Rosalinda, his wife   Brittany Hogan
Elizabeth Dow
Adele, their maid   Lindsay Thompson
Emily McCullough
Alfredo, an opera singer   William Davenport
Raymond Diaz
Dr. Falke, Eisenstein’s old friend   Benjamin Moore
Andrew Sauvageau
Prince Orlofsky   Kristina Lewis
Katelyn Jackman
Frank, prison director   William Schaller
Matthew Sullivan
Dr. Blind, Eisenstein’s lawyer   Michael Rainbow
Nicholas Fichter
Ida, Adele’s sister   Sarah Mahon
Melissa Wimbish
Frogg, a jailer   Nicholas Fichter
William Schaller