Lyric Opera of Chicago
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A comic operetta that leaves you dancing in the aisles!

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  • by Johann Strauss Jr
  • In German with projected English texts. 

    Strauss's Die Fledermaus is a new-to-Chicago production. Production owned by San Francisco Opera Association.

  • Running time: 3h, 25m including two intermissions

Waltzes galore and more...it's the world's favorite operetta, and it's laughter all the way.

Two friends angle to "out-prank" each other, a wife contemplates a tenorial fling, her maid schemes to break into showbiz, and Vienna's favorite prince encourages us all to party on!

“This production is a delightful reminder of how much pleasure can be had from Johann Strauss, Jr.’s operetta...American director E. Loren Meeker brings it to life with energy and abundant charm.” Opera News

Lyric Opera presentation of Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Die Fledermaus generously made possible by the Donna Van Eekeren Foundation and Katherine A. Abelson and Robert J. Cornell.

 

Starring

  • Juliane Banse

    Rosalinde

    Juliane Banse

    With her sensual, smoky high soprano, "Juliane Banse is capivating." The New York Times

  • Bo Skovhus

    Eisenstein

    Bo Skovhus

    Superstar Bo Skovhus "makes a handsome and dashing philanderer." Chicago Tribune

  • Daniela Fally

    Adele

    Daniela Fally

    Daniela Fally: "Amazing top notes, laser beam accuracy, plummy tone, and oh, what trills.” Opera News

  • Adrian Eröd

    Falke

    Adrian Eröd

    Adrian Eröd, “one of the great music theater discoveries of the last decade” (Die Presse, Vienna) will shine as the crafty Falke!

  • Michael Spyres

    Alfred

    Michael Spyres

    With his “gorgeous lyric tenor” (Opera News), Michael Spyres will be ideal as the would-be-seducer Alfred.

Die Fledermaus - Juliane Banse

Rosalinde
Juliane Banse*

Die Fledermaus - Bo Skovhus

Eisenstein
Bo Skovhus

Die Fledermaus - Daniela Fally

Adele
Daniela Fally*

Die Fledermaus - Adrian Erod

Falke
Adrian Eröd

Die Fledermaus - Michael Spyres

Alfred
Michael Spyres*

Die Fledermaus - Emily Fons

Prince Orlofsky
Emily Fons† †

Die Fledermaus - Andrew Shore

Frank
Andrew Shore

Die Fledermaus - David Cangelosi

Dr. Blind
David Cangelosi† †

Die Fledermaus - Fred Wellisch

Frosch
Fred Wellisch

Die Fledermaus - Julie Anne Miller

Ida
Julie Anne Miller

Die Fledermaus - Will Liverman

Ivan
Will Liverman

Die Fledermaus - Ward Stare

Conductor
Ward Stare

 



Director
E. Loren Meeker**

 



Set Designer
Wolfram Skalicki    

 

Die Fledermaus - Thierry Bosquet

Costume Designer
Thierry Bosquet

 

Die Fledermaus - Duane Schuler

Lighting Designer
Duane Schuler

 



Chorus Master
Michael Black

 



Choreographer
Daniel Pelzig

 

*Lyric Debut
**Lyric Directorial Debut
† current member, Ryan Opera Center
† † alumnus/ alumna, Ryan Opera Center

LIFE'S A BALL

High style and comedy in 3/4 time
Die Fledermaus

by Magda Krance 

Imagine a city full of the rich young and restless. They dress extravagantly and dance madly till dawn. They prank each other and disguise themselves to relieve ennui. They’re fabulously decadent, and their bad behavior often lands them in jail.

Narcissistic millennials? Denizens of the heady Jazz Age? True enough. But back in the mid-1800s, that description fit the refined hedonism of “New Vienna” like a kid glove. The city was flush with nouveau-riche entrepreneurs and speculators spending lavishly on magnificent mansions and endless parties. Johann Strauss, Jr. (1825-99) cranked out 200+ dance tunes before he turned 30, quickly surpassing his father’s output and popularity. The rock-star composer-conductor had six orchestras playing multiple gigs nightly. As Hector Berlioz observed, “The youth of Vienna gives rein to its passion for dancing…I spent whole nights watching these incomparable waltzers whirling around in great clouds…. what an influence [Strauss] has already had on the musical taste of Europe as a whole.”

Johannes Brahms also sang Strauss’s praise: “There is a master of the orchestra, so great a master that one never fails to hear a single note of any instrument.” Even Richard Strauss (no relation) declared, “How could I have composed [the Rosenkavalier waltzes] without thinking of the laughing genius of Vienna?”

In the early 1870s J. Strauss turned to operetta; his first efforts succeeded despite weak libretti. The third, Die Fledermaus, became the dazzling charmer for the ages after it premiered in 1874 – even though the glittering world it depicts had been seriously shaken just 11 months earlier, after a ginormous stock-market crash ravaged the Austro-Hungarian economy. Strauss could’ve called it The Way We Were

But you can’t keep the ebullient Viennese down, and the “Black Friday” gloom had mostly dissipated when Strauss’s irrepressible Fledermaus first kicked up its heels.

The opening measures snap and crackle with the promise of intoxicating merriment and mischief. The overture music pops and sparkles like – what else? – champagne. Coyly feminine musical phrases alternate with manly swaggering, which signals a cascade of lively deceptions and intrigues to come. The orchestra hesitates tipsily before accelerating to a dizzying gallop.

By the time the curtain rises you’ll be under the influence, fully primed for a roaring good time. As essayist Gordon Stewart noted, “the complete distillation of gaiety and joie de vivre that the composer put into Die Fledermaus has never been The operetta has been seen four times previously at Lyric since 1982.

“We’ve chosen to present a traditional, beautiful, very entertaining and very funny production,” says general director Anthony Freud of the San Francisco Opera production (new to Chicago) directed by E. Loren Meeker (Lyric directorial debut) and designed by Wolfram Skalicki (sets), Thierry Bosquet (costumes), and Duane Schuler (lighting). Music director Sir Andrew Davis praises the “dream cast”:

Juliane Banse (Rosalinde) is “a wonderful actress with a beautiful, beautiful voice. Bo Skovhus (Eisenstein) is one of the great European artists – we had terrific fun in Die Meistersinger. I’ve heard excellent things about Daniela Fally (Adele), Michael Spyres (Alfred), and Adrian Eröd (Dr. Falke). Emily Fons (Prince Orlofsky) is exceptional at portraying adolescent males – most recently Cherubino at Santa Fe Opera. Andrew Shore (Frank) is a terrific comedian, as we recall from his Falstaff and Pooh-Bah in The Mikado.”

The Fledermaus tale twists like a bat in flight: ardent tenor Alfred serenades his former sweetheart, Rosalinde (now respectably married), to her professed horror and secret delight. Her husband, prosperous Gabriel von Eisenstein, is off to jail for a minor infraction – how convenient! His hapless lawyer, Dr. Blind, has actually caused a longer sentence.

The maid Adele wheedles for the night off, having received an invitation to Prince Orlofsky’s ball. Dr. Falke drops by to invite Eisenstein to flirt and feast at the ball, telling Rosalinde he’s escorting her husband to jail. Alfred sneaks in to continue his wooing, but is foiled when the prison warden Frank comes for Rosalinde’s husband (whom Alfred pretends to be) and hustles Alfred off to jail so he can proceed to the same ball. And – an invitation comes for The Good Wife, so off she goes as well!

Got all that? It gets worse, and thus better. Everyone (but Alfred) arrives at the prince’s party in masks, having been invited incognito by Falke. He presents the bored young host with the evening’s diversion, “The Bat’s Revenge,” hearkening back to when Eisenstein had ditched the passed-out doctor on a park bench – dressed in a bat costume and mocked by passersby. Falke introduces Eisenstein and his would-be jailer as “Marquis Renard” and “Chevalier Chagrin” (their faux-français bumbling is hilarious), Adele as the actress Olga, and Rosalinde as a Hungarian countess. Mirthful misbehavior abounds, all abetted by champagne. The action shifts to the jail in the early morning, where further amusing complications and embarrassments ensue. Ultimately, champagne takes the blame and all is forgiven in the frothy finale.

The melodies of Die Fledermaus are hummably familiar and perennially fresh, engendering affection for characters who might otherwise seem less than charming: straying spouses, a scheming maid, a revenge-driven prankster, a lousy lawyer, dissolute nobility, overserved guests. Note that the second acts of Die Fledermaus and Verdi’s La traviata depict the beau monde/demimonde revels perfectly summarized by Prince Orlofsky’s jaded motto, “Chacun à son goût!” (Everyone to his taste). As Stewart observed, “After 1850 there grew up in [Vienna] a nightlife that had not existed before…gentlemen were not accompanied by their wives, whose image of respectability excluded them from such orgies of pleasure…the only chance a respectable woman had was to attend a masked ball where one could pleasantly play with fire and a man could seek adventure. The masked ball was a symptom of the moral attitude of the time.”

A little darkness below the surface makes Die Fledermaus glitter gaily all the more. “The Bat’s Revenge” will brighten Lyric’s stage immeasurably during the long midwinter evenings of December and January.

Further Reading

The Habsburg Twilight: Tales from Vienna by Sarah Gainham, Atheneum, 1979.

Johann Strauss: The End of an Era by Egon Gartenberg, Da Capo Press, 1979.

Johann Strauss: Father and Son by H.E. Jacob, translated by Marguerite Wolff, The Greystone Press, 1940 (reissued by Kessinger Publishing).

Operetta: A Theatrical History by Richard Traubner, Routledge, 2003.

Vienna by Frederic V. Grunfeld and the editors of the Newsweek Book Division, Newsweek, 1981.

Die Fledermaus Discovery Series

Extreme flirting, lots of champagne and the music of Johann Strauss, Jr. Die Fledermaus is one of the greatest of all operettas. Bo Skovhus (Eisenstein), Juliane Banse (Rosalinde), Daniela Fally (Adele), director E. Loren Meeker, and conductor Ward Stare engage in a lively conversation on the ever-popular work.

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Die Fledermaus Commentary

Die Fledermaus
by Johann Strauss, Jr.

© 2013/14 Lyric Opera Commentaries 

Original sound recordings of musical excerpts used by permission of EMI Classics. All rights reserved. Post-production services provided by Mark Travis, Producer.

 

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Die Fledermaus Audio Preview

Recordings used by permission of EMI Classics.