January 13, 2003
Johann Strauß’s Die Fledermaus has quite a lot of charming music and something of a convoluted plot. When I first saw it in Vienna I didn’t quite know what was going on, but had a lovely time anyway. Last Friday I attended a performance of this opera at the Bavarian State Opera, this time having read a synopsis in English beforehand, but not the libretto since my copy is either somewhere between Santa Cruz and Avignon or Emeryville and Garching, depending on which box it was placed.
This celebratory production included many streamers of various colors. It was a happy bordering on mad, Christopher Robson, the countertenor who was in Xerxes, was particularly nutty as Prince Orlofsky, and they had him sing in his higher range for some of this part.
Gabriella Fontana as Rosalinda was fairly good, her voice was a bit quiet though. Thomas Allen was well suited for the part of Gabriel von Eisenstein, his voice was adequate, his movements and acting were good. Margarita De Arellano was adorable as the maid Adele, hough her voice is shrill in the upper range. As Adele’s sister Ida was Beate Vollack, who must be the skinniest principal in an opera anywhere. Unsurprisingly, she is a ballet dancer, though she did sing a little. Her dancing wasn’t bad. My favorite singer of the evening was fellow Angeleno Eduardo Villa as Alfred, he had a beautiful tenor voice. They had him sing various snippets of Puccini and Verdi arias, which was quite funny.
The favorite of the evening was undoubtedly Jörg Hube as Frosch, who naturally doesn’t sing at all, but as the addled drunk jailer, his part is rather comedic.
The sets were well-designed and quiet, particularly impressive was the transition between Acts I and II when the room of von Eisenstein’s house was simply pushed off by servants dressed in a Rococo manner, only to reveal Prince Orlofsky’s party. Most of the set had a Art Nouveau aesthetic, though Orlofsky was floated in on a leopard print couch, wearing a magenta suit with silver spangles.
It was nice to see Jun Märkl conducting again, he had his San Francisco Opera debut in Ariadne auf Naxos last Fall.