9 July 2017 | TheLittleSongbird
'Die Fledermaus' in the open air
'Die Fledermaus' is one of my all-time favourite operettas (and one of my favourite works overall from Johann "The Waltz King" Strauss II). It has hilarious witty dialogue, memorable characters, a fun story and above all sparkling music especially the overture, the Champagne chorus, the Czardas and "Mein Herr Marquis".
This production is a good one. Not among the best productions like 1984(Covent Garden), 1972(Kleiber-conducted), 1986(Munich and Met) and 1990(Covent Garden), which had a little more zest and dream casts on top form. It is however significantly better than the visually unappealing and dramatically joyless 2000 Bastille production, the dull 1962 film and particularly the wretchedly distasteful 2003 Salzburg production.
A lot of strengths here. The open air setting may invoke a few initial worries, like whether it would affect the sound quality, balance or ensemble, but these worries quickly evaporate as none of those potential problems that can happen with some open air productions. The settings are suitably colourful and opulent as 'Die Fledermaus' should be, and the traditional costumes were both distinguished and elegant with rich colour and no mish-mash of styles.
Staging brings out all the charm, heart and zesty fun of the operetta. The comedy is never played too broadly and things go at a lively pace. My only reservation in this regard was to do with the ballet sequences, wittily choreographed and gracefully danced but seemed irrelevant.
Musically, the production is hugely impressive, with light-on-its-feet, at other times richly textured and nuanced orchestral playing, with a lot of energy and poetic grace. The chorus are very individually involving and sound wonderfully balanced. The conducting is accommodating but alert to the drama and the comedy. The delivery of the comedic dialogue is done with a lot of spirit and good variations of expression.
Of the cast, the standouts were Ute Gfrerer's silvery voiced, stylistically agile, comedically superb and pert Adele and Tomas Sind's hilarious Alfred. Silvana Dussmann is a spirited, charming and rich voiced Rosalinde and Peter Edelmann is a robust and sonorous Eisenstein. Paul Armin Edelmann and Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke are a little young as Falke and Blind but perform with a lot of character.
Despite so many good elements, not everything works. The irrelevant though still well done from a dancing and choreography point of view ballet sequences have already been mentioned. Two performances didn't really do it for me. One was Artur Stefanowicz's Orlofsky, good in characterisation but to me, being so used to the role being done by a mezzo it just sounded strange and not as vocally focused being done by a counter-tenor. The other is Thaddäus Podgorski, there is very little funny or involving about his Frosch.
In conclusion, good and fun production of a wonderful operetta. 7/10 Bethany Cox