🎻♫♪ – Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II

List Item: Listen to half of the 1001 Classical Works You Must Hear Before You Die
63/501Title: Die Fledermaus
Composer: Johann Strauss II
Nationality: Austrian

As I mentioned in my first post about my trip to Paris, I managed to get some decently priced tickets to see the opera. The twist being that it was at a venue called M93 in the Parisian suburb of Bobigny. Sure, it would have been nice to be in one of the grand opera houses, but the seats were comfortable and the performers were excellent. Turns out this performance was being done by students at Paris’s opera school, which means I might have been watching a star of tomorrow (hopefully the Irish girl playing Adele, she was outstanding).

So it turns out that Die Fledermaus is the first operetta that I have listened to. It’s a term that I have heard before with regards to Gilbert & Sullivan, but I didn’t know that it meant operatic singing with dialogue between songs. So imagine my surprise when the company started speaking French after singing everything else in German. I have such respect for the singers for making this switch, especially those who had Polish or English as their first language.

I think this might be the first time that I have been to an classical performance for this list where I found myself laughing. I mean this is a comedic opera centred around a revenge plan, but the performance was so great that the theatre was laughing fairly often. I also didn’t realise that an opera(etta) could be so meta, but that might just be this particular adaptation.

For me there are three real stand-out songs in this piece, which is wholly excellent. First is Adele’s Laughing Song, where sing-laughter is mixed into the lyrics as part of the characters denial that she is actually a servant.  Secondly are a few songs at the end of Act Two where Rosalind is having to fend off a rather amorous lover and then ends up having to pretend he is her husband. Then there is the big Champagne Song that reprises a few times and provides an excellent finale. It’s one of those tunes I didn’t realise that I knew, but the moment it came on I suddenly realised that I must have heard it somewhere before.

The whole story and concept is ridiculous and farcical, but that makes it all the more fun. Especially when I think of how serious other operas that I have crossed off have tended to be. I’d really love to see this again with proper costuming in a lavish theatre, but I am definitely satisfied with the version I saw.

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