Die Fledermaus is a classic operetta thanks to its energetically bubbling music. This recent production shows that even an old warhorse can reveal new aspects of itself. Marco Arturo Marelli, who created the brilliant productions ofDer Rosenkavalier and Pelléas et Mélisande, brings colour, movement, joy and kaleidoscopic whirls to the stage, all executed with the light touch of a Viennese waltz.
Falke, a notary, was once abandoned on the town after a fancy dress ball, dressed up as a bat; in revenge, he orchestrates a series of misunderstandings.
At a well-lubricated soirée held by Prince Orlofsky, the guests are incognito, and the inevitable confusion leads to everyone ending up in jail. In the hilarious final reckoning, it is deemed that champagne is the culprit.
Swirling waltzes and bubbly happiness all around
“Champagne is to blame – that is the moral of the story!”
– Director Marco Arturo Marelli
What is operetta?
What is operetta? It is impossible to define. You have to see it to understand what it really is: merry dancing, soulful music, funny occurrences, romances without a hint of future marital discord. And most importantly, the complete absence of the ugly real world.
Before the action begins:
Eisenstein and Falke the notary once went to a fancy dress ball together, Eisenstein dressed up as a butterfly and Falke as a bat. As they returned from the evening very much under the influence, Eisenstein came up with what he thought was a good joke: he left Falke to sleep it off, still dressed as a bat, in the middle of the city. In the morning, Falke was the laughing stock of Vienna and came to be known as Doktor Fledermaus (Doctor Bat). Eisenstein believes that Falke has forgotten all about the incident, but in fact Falke is now plotting his revenge…
Eisenstein is due to report to the prison to serve a sentence for a minor misdemeanor. Falke persuades him to go to Prince Orlofsky’s party instead: there’s time enough to go to prison on the following day. Adele, maid to Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinde, has also been invited to the party by her sister Ida. Adele is given the night off by Rosalinde, who has an assignation with her admirer Alfred. In a surprising turn of events, Frank, the prison warden, arrives to collect Eisenstein but mistakes Alfred for the man of the house and takes him into custody.
Adele finds out that Ida never sent the invitation. It was in fact sent by Falke, whose plan is to take his revenge on Eisenstein by orchestrating a series of misunderstandings. Falke introduces Adele and Eisenstein to Prince Orlofsky as an actress named Olga and as a Marquis, respectively. He has also invited Frank, whom he introduces as Chevalier Chagrin, and Rosalinde, who he announces is a Hungarian Countess.
As everyone is in disguise, Eisenstein fails to recognize Rosalinde, who secretly purloins her husband’s watch in order to be able to prove later that they had both been at the party. A grand waltz brings the champagne-laced evening to its conclusion.
In the prison we see Alfred who is incarcerated. Frosch, the jailer, has hit the bottle in the warden’s absence. All of Orlofsky’s guests arrive at the prison one after the other, and Frank eventually discovers that he has locked up the wrong man. The confusion is compounded as Eisenstein appears disguised as an attorney named Blind. Rosalinde, in turn not recognising him, tells him that she wants to divorce her husband, because he has been out all night. Eisenstein then reveals himself and accuses his wife in turn. Rosalinde, however, produces Eisenstein’s watch to prove that he too has been out partying.
Eventually Falke owns up to masterminding the entire shambles in order to humiliate Eisenstein for the bat incident. Harmony is restored, and the party guests are all agreed on one thing: it’s the champagne that was to blame.
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