by Johann Strauss II
Friday, November 4, 2016 • 7:30pm
Sunday, November 6, 2016 • 2:30pm
The Egyptian Theatre
Keep the party going on opening night to celebrate our first opera of the season, J. Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus, at a special benefit event for Opera Idaho.
For more information about each cast member, click on the next to their name.
The supreme example of Viennese operetta, Johann Strauss Jr.s’ Die Fledermaus both defines and transcends that genre. Its story centers on a magnificent masked ball, given by a Russian prince, which brings together all the main characters in various disguises. The three-act journey from boudoir to ballroom to jail provides ample opportunities for farce and humor, but also for genuine human emotion and a surprisingly realistic view of urban life.
Performed in English with an all-Idaho cast, Die Fledermaus will be directed by Ben Spierman, who has recently directed Opera Idaho productions of Carmen and The Magic Flute. Despite its worldwide popularity, Die Fledermaus has only been produced once previously by Opera Idaho, that being in 2000.
Vienna, New Year’s Eve, 1899. Outside the Eisensteins’ apartment, the tenor Alfred serenades his old flame Rosalinde, who is now married to Gabriel von Eisenstein. Adele, Rosalinde’s chambermaid, wonders how to get the night off to attend a glamorous New Year’s Eve ball to which her sister has invited her. She tells her mistress she must visit a sick aunt, but Rosalinde refuses to let her go. Alfred appears and declares his love to Rosalinde, who resists him until he begins to sing. Hearing someone coming, she sends Alfred away, but not before he has convinced her to let him return later. Eisenstein and his lawyer, Blind, arrive from a session in court: Eisenstein has been sentenced to eight days in jail for striking a police officer and must begin his term that very night. He furiously dismisses Blind. His friend Falke urges Eisenstein to delay going to jail until morning and instead join him at the ball, which is being given by the wealthy Prince Orlofsky. Falke tells Eisenstein to bring along his infamous pocket watch to charm the ladies. While Eisenstein changes, Falke invites Rosalinde to the ball as well, telling her that if she comes in disguise, she’ll be able to observe her husband flirting with other women. Rosalinde at first doesn’t like the idea but changes her mind when Eisenstein reappears in evening dress. She joins Adele in a bittersweet farewell as her husband heads off to “prison.” Angry at Eisenstein’s deception, she then tells Adele to go see her “aunt” and receives the ardent Alfred. Their rendezvous is interrupted by the prison warden Frank, who has come to arrest Eisenstein. Rosalinde persuades Alfred to preserve her good name by posing as her husband, and Frank carts Alfred off to jail.
In the ballroom of Prince Orlofsky’s villa, the guests gossip about their host, who has a habit of paying someone to try to make him laugh—usually in vain. Orlofsky doubts that Falke’s promised evening of entertainment will brighten his spirits, but proclaims his guests should behave however they want and do anything they like. Adele arrives—to the surprise of her sister Ida, a dancer in a hit musical show, who claims she never invited her. Ida worries Adele isn’t classy enough to attend the ball, so they decide to present her as a Russian actress named Olga. Eisenstein enters, posing as a Frenchman, per Falke’s instructions. He immediately identifies Adele as his wife’s maid, but she laughs him off. Frank is also posing as a Frenchman, and he and Eisenstein become fast friends. Frank is so smitten with Ida and “Olga” that he pretends to be a theatrical producer to impress them. Finally Rosalinde arrives, disguised as a Hungarian countess. Angry to spot her husband flirting with her maid, she sings an impassioned ode to her betrayed homeland. When a smitten Eisenstein starts flirting with her, she manages to steal his pocket watch. Midnight is approaching, and Falke entertains the guests with the story of how he earned the nickname of Dr. Fledermaus: one drunken evening, when he was dressed as a bat for a costume ball, his best friend Eisenstein played a practical joke on him that made him the laughingstock of Vienna. The crowd toasts drink, love, and brotherhood until the stroke of midnight, when the new century begins. The guests dance through the night. As the clock strikes six, Eisenstein, whose attempts to retrieve his watch from Rosalinde have failed, rushes off to jail.
Frosch the jailer is vexed by the late arrival of his boss, Frank, and by the nonstop singing of Alfred in cell number 12. Frank finally appears, tipsy and enraptured by memories of his magical evening posing as an impresario. Ida and Adele arrive, per Falke’s instructions. Adele hopes Frank might further her stage aspirations. Frank sends them off and then admits Eisenstein, who says he has come to serve his sentence. He is surprised to learn his cell is already occupied by a man who claims to be him and who was found in his apartment with Rosalinde. Blind arrives, claiming he was summoned by the man in cell 12 to handle a case of false arrest. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter, Eisenstein snatches Blind’s cloak, glasses, and wig to disguise himself as the lawyer and confront the impostor. At that moment, Rosalinde rushes in. She tries to secure Alfred’s release and asks “Blind” to press divorce charges against her errant husband, but is offended when the “lawyer” seems to take Eisenstein’s side. Dropping his disguise, Eisenstein accuses his wife of promiscuity, at which point Rosalinde produces his watch. Both lament the impasse at which they’ve arrived, admitting that divorce would be a shame, since they really do love each other. Falke arrives to gloat over the success of his plan—only to find the couple falling into each other’s arms and to discover Adele, Frank, and Frosch happily embarking on new careers. As Falke bemoans that all his efforts were in vain and his life is a failure, Orlofsky arrives with his guests in tow just in time to hear the story—and breaks into hysterical laughter. All sing a final paean to the joys of champagne.