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'Die Fledermaus' is fine operatic fun

The music, dancing, and singing sparkle in the Arizona Opera Company production.

By Daniel Buckley
Tucson Citizen
October, 14 1998

A tuneful score, splendid singers and hilarious staging waltzed Arizona Opera Company's "Die Fledermaus" to a glowing crowd reception
last night.

Again, AOC's new general director, David Speers, has put together a uniformly high quality team from the orchestra pit all across the
main stage.

Johann Strauss' lithe, dance-filled operetta received the right combination of gaiety, musicality and broad foolishness without ever bordering on the idiotic.

The story centers on Eisenstein, who is supposed to be spending the next eight days behind bars.

But his old buddy, Dr. Falke, is out to avenge a practical joke Eisenstein has played on him. He tells Eisenstein he can head to the slammer mañana and attend Prince Orlofsky's grand party instead, in the guise of a marquis.

The doctor has also woven Eisenstein's wife, Rosalinda, and her chambermaid, Adele, into the plot, having the maid attend as an actress and the wife as a masked Hungarian Countess.

Eisenstein ends up hitting on his own wife, who herself narrowly escapes getting caught in her own tryst with tenor Alfred by having the new warden mistakenly arrest the singing Romeo.

In the end, they all toast champagne and have a good laugh at Eisenstein's expense.

Stage director James McNamara and choreographer Michael Uthoff kept the action full of slapstick details and elegant dancing, and the performers rose to the occasion.

The singing was nearly spotless, with top honors going to Benoit Boutet's Eisenstein, Ben Sorenson's Dr. Falke and Susan Wallin's Adele. Pamela Hicks' Rosalinda was just a shade behind, lacking strength in her earliest scenes.

Douglas Wunsch's Alfred was both hilarious and superbly sung, capturing the tenor's ego and amorous boldness with larger than life presence.

Truthfully, there was not a single performer who failed to carry the musical and comedic qualities of the assigned role.

Support from the pit was likewise superb - finely balanced, idiomatically detailed and robustly played. The sets, while minimal, conveyed the sense of place in every scene.

Do yourself a favor. Crack a magnum of bubbly, indulge in a judicious few sips and prepare to thoroughly enjoy this regal Viennese bonbon.

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Die Fledermaus (Synopsis)
Johann Strauss II (Bio)

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