Opera Scotland

Fledermaus Die Fledermaus; The Bat;

Johann Strauss (born Vienna, 25 October 1825; died Vienna, 3 June 1899)

Carl Haffner and Richard Genée

Farce Le réveillon (1872) by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy.

First performance: Vienna (Theater an der Wien), 5 April 1874.
First UK performance: London (Alhambra Theatre), 18 December 1876.
First performance in Scotland: To be confirmed.
Scottish Opera première: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), June 14 1975.

Die Fledermaus has been one of a handful of Viennese operettas to have successfully achieved regular performance in the great opera houses of the world. Its consistent success has outstripped all rivals, even The Merry Widow. The spoken role of Frosch is traditionally played by a well-known comedian, and one run of performances by Scottish Opera featured Billy Connolly in the part. There seems to be a trend developing to cut the role, thus allowing the last act to follow the second without a second interval.

Main Characters
Adele, the Eisensteins’ maid (soprano)
Rosalinde, Eisenstein’s wife (soprano)
Alfred, an Italian singer (tenor)
Gabriel von Eisenstein (baritone)
Falke, a doctor, and friend of Eisenstein (baritone)
Colonel Frank, prison governor (bass)
Prince Orlofsky, a Russian millionaire (mezzo-soprano)
Frosch, a gaoler (spoken)

Plot Summary
Rosalinde is serenaded by an old flame, Alfred, who has heard that her husband is going to be away for a few days. Eisenstein has been sentenced to a brief stay in prison for a trivial offence. He is persuaded by his friend Falke to delay the start of his sentence in order to attend Orlofsky’s party. Falke’s motive is to gain revenge for an embarrassing trick played on him by Eisenstein, involving a fancy-dress bat costume. Further elements of his plot are to bring Rosalinde to the party in disguise, as well as Adele, Rosalinde’s maid, who has borrowed a dress from her mistress’s wardrobe. The final, fortuitous element is that after Eisenstein’s departure, Alfred arrives for supper with Rosalinde, and is persuaded by her to keep quiet about his identity when Frank, the prison governor arrives to escort his new guest to prison. Having delivered Alfred to his cell, Frank also goes to the party, so the elements of Falke’s plot are in place, and Orlofsky, desperately bored with his lifestyle, is primed to observe the chaos that will ensue. Eisenstein attempts to seduce his wife, who impersonates a Hungarian countess. He and Frank, unaware of their true circumstances, become very friendly as they get increasingly drunk. Adele’s presence also causes confusion. The final act takes place in the prison, where Frosch is irritated by the constant singing of the new prisoner. Eisenstein then reports to start his prison term. After further confusion as the various elements unravel, Orlofsky and Falke explain the plot. Eisenstein and Rosalinde are reconciled, and Frank agrees to sponsor Adele’s ambitions for a career on the stage. More champagne is consumed.

The Cast

 the Eisensteins' maid
 an Italian tenor and admirer of Rosalinde
 Eisenstein's lawyer
 to Orlofsky
 a notary and friend of Eisenstein
 prison governor
 prison warder
Gabriel von Eisenstein
 Adele's sister
 Orlofsky's servant
 a rich young Russian prince
 wife of Eisenstein

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