Tuesday, October 22, 2013

DIE FLEDERMAUS Returns to Sarasota Opera November 1st!

Baritone Sean Anderson as Eisenstein
in the 2006 Sarasota Opera production
of Die Fledermaus
Sarasota Opera will open its 2013 fall season on November 1st with the  operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Johann Strauss, Jr.  Sparkling and effervescent, Die Fledermaus gradually became a global hit after its premiere on April 5, 1874, and is the most performed operetta in the world!
Even though operetta was the musical genre du jour in mid-nineteenth century Vienna, the form did not begin there.  The origin of the form  was in Paris during the 1850s.   Composer Jacques Offenbach was having great success with one act comedies poking fun at politicians and aristocrats which proved to be a nice alternative to the increasingly serious French grand opera.  Offenbach’s theater was packed with patrons eager to enjoy evening s of light musical entertainment. In a short time, the popularity of these operettas (operette in French) swept through Europe, particularly in Vienna, where Austrian composers began trying their hand at creating works of similar style.
The most successful of these was Johann Strauss, Jr.  In addition to writing Viennese waltzes that are still played today, Johann Strauss, Jr. is famous for taking the French operette form, layering it with some Viennese flavor, and creating the Viennese operetta; His most famous and beloved being Die Fledermaus.         

Die Fledermaus premiered on April 5, 1874, at the Theater an der Wien was well received by the audience.  It enjoyed 16 initial performances in Vienna then quickly made its way around Europe with varying degrees of success.  It wasn’t until the early 20th Century that audience enthusiasm solidified its stature as a cultural landmark and the work is now presented regularly around the world.

Sarasota Opera's 2006 production of Johann Strauss, Jr.'s Die Fledermaus
An elaborate revenge scheme is hatched by Dr. Falke to expose the womanizing ways of his friend Eisenstein.  The previous winter, following a masked ball, Eisenstein left his friend Falke drunk and asleep under a tree in a bat costume (hence the name of the opera “The Bat”).  Falke has now invited Eisenstein to enjoy a final night of frivolity, before he departs for a short stint in jail, at an elaborate Viennese ball hosted by Prince Orlovsky.  Falke tricks Eisenstein into flirting with his own wife, Rosalinda, who is disguised as an Hungarian countess.  A comedic evening, full of hidden identities and amorous intrigues, results in this charming story where ultimately champagne reigns as king!

Baritone Sean Anderson, who won critical acclaim as George in last season’s Of Mice and Men and Iago in the 2012 production of Verdi’s Otello, made his Sarasota Opera debut as the scheming Eisenstein in 2006.  Of his return in the role, Mr. Anderson says, “I always look forward to performing in Die Fledermaus, or any operetta for that matter, largely due to dialogue.  Opera singing is demanding without the addition of spoken text that must, must be on par dramatically with the sections which are sung. To strive to do both with artistic integrity is a challenge I relish bending my skill towards.”       
Mr. Anderson will be sharing the stage with a large cast of Sarasota Opera favorites.  Soprano Danielle Walker (A King for a Day, Carmen) will sing the role of his wife Rosalinda; Soprano Angela Mortellaro (Hansel and Gretel) will sing Adele, Rosalinda’s chambermaid; tenor Joshua Kohl (Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Giovanni) as Alfred, Rosalinda’s former lover; baritone Matthew Hanscom (Of Mice and Men, Turandot) as Dr. Falke, a.k.a “The Bat”; and mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert (Rigoletto, La rondine), as Prince Orlovsky, the host of the Viennese Ball where Falke’s plot unfolds.  Stephanie Sundine will direct and Maestro Victor DeRenzi will conduct the Sarasota Orchestra.  Originally written in German, this production will be sung in English in a translation by Marcie Stapp.  And like all productions at Sarasota Opera, subtitles will be projected above the stage. 

With tickets starting at only $19, this is a wonderful opportunity to see one of Johann Strauss, Jr.’s most celebrated works come alive.  Performances are November 1, 3(m), 5, 7, 13, and 15(m).  Evening performances begin at 8pm and matinĂ©e performances (both weekend and weekday) begin at 1:30pm.  For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Sarasota Opera Box Office at (941) 328-1300 or visit us at www.sarasotaopera.org.

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