‘Chacun à son goût’ – The Peculiar Charm of Operetta

Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden
Sunday 25 March 2012
Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus

It’s been a while since my last visit to the opera, so when my grandmother asked me to choose a performance I’d like to go to I was delighted to find Strauss’ Die Fledermaus on Wiesbaden’s programme. Yes, I must admit: I simply love operetta. My Granny – for whatever reason – doesn’t. To be honest, I can see why. As a strictly-opera goer one does not really approve of those Viennese waltzes, those light and cheerful songs and the ‘awful’ talking inbetween the arias. Too few deaths, too little drama. At least the staging was very traditional, so Granny wasn’t too disappointed altogether.

(c) Staatstheater Wiesbaden

The story is simple, but cleverly and entertainingly constructed: Gabriel von Eistenstein (Carsten Süss) is about to be arrested for having insulted a policeman. His wife Rosalinde (Annette Luig) is not too sad about it, flirting with her ex-singer colleague Alfred (Andreas Scheidegger). Von Eisenstein’s friend Dr. Falke (Reinhold Schreyer-Morlock) has different plans, though, wanting to take revenge on his old friend by inviting him to a  party hosted by Graf Orlofsky (Ute Döring). There he is to meet his wife, masked as a Hungarian duchess, his maid Adele (Emma Pearson) and the prison governor Frank (Wolfgang Vater) – who has mistakenly arrested Alfred and does not know who von Eisenstein really is)-, all of them not revealing their real identity. A lovely confusion starts and in the end, of course, everything turns out to have been just a joke, a happy ending, naturally.

Each and every one of Strauss’ characters were beautifully and individually played, especially Adele portraied by Emma Pearson stands out with her marvellous, crystal-clear soprano voice. Carsten Süss plays his role with great empathy and good stage presence, as does Wolfgang Vater (as usual); together they turn out as a glorious pair, whose voices and dialogues perfectly harmonise. TV actor Stephan Bieker in the role of prison ward Frosch is a hilarious asset to the performance, involving the audience and the recent political incidents in his slapstick appearance. Even the small roles, such as the one of lawyer Dr. Blind (Erik Biegel) are played with devotion and a great sense of humour. Sadly, the parts of Rosalinde and Graf Orlofsky (traditionally a trouser role) didn’t convince me. Ute Döring as Orlofsky is much too reserved, her cues too early and her tempo too fast. Annette Luig is anxious to stand out next to Adele, but she is far too restrained, her voice even breaking off at some parts and her vibrato being a bit too artificial, not really subtle.

Apart from this I had a ball (and I wasn’t the only one). I think people simply enjoy the music in combination with an entertaining story – not that I don’t like opera, not at all! But seeing things not as serious from time to time can’t be too bad, can it?

Die Fledermaus is a traditional New Year’s Eve-performance here in Germany and it really is a bit odd to find it being staged in spring. But people seem to be drawn to its witty, almost silly story – and why not? It’s not a crime to be happy when going to the theatre, methinks.


There will be another performance on April 8 2012, 6pm, tickets are also available online. Here you can see a trailer. 



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