AN OUTSTANDING "DIE FLEDERMAUS"
Opens the 2019-2020 Season of OSJ
BY IRIDE APARICIO
Photos by Bob Shomler
SAN JOSÉ, CA -- The night of September 14, was unusual in downtown San José. Shinning on the sky one could see the "Micro Moon," the full moon which looks smaller because it is at its farthest point from the earth. The temperature was warm. And as a group of teenagers splashed each other with water from the fountain, the gentle wind whistled through the branches of the palm trees compelling them to dance.
Contrasting with the calmness outside, inside The California Theatre the audience was bursting with excitement. OPERA SAN JOSÉ (OSJ) was opening its 2019-2020 Season with the Viennese operetta, DIE FLEDERMAUSE .
The program began with the singing of the National Anthem by the audience, followed by a brief speech by the Mayor of the San José SAM LICCARDO, which he ended by specially thanking OSJ General Director LARRY HANCOCK, for his leadership.
The sparkling melodies of the Overture of JOHAN STRAUSS II's operetta were heard. Masterfully interpreted by the orchestra under Conductor MICHAEL MORGAN, the Polkas and Waltzes filled the gilded walls of the theatre with their invigorating sound. Unable to resist their exuberant rhythms, some people began swaying in their seats
With a German libretto, written by CARL (also spelled KARL) HAFFNER and RICHARD GENÈE, the operetta (light ópera) DIE FLEDERMAUS, is also called THE BAT or better described by the name THE REVENGE OF THE BAT, because in order for us to understand the humor in the operetta, we need to learn that in Austria, they call the bat (the marsupial animal) fledermaus. It also helps to learn some of the characters' background, before the operetta starts.
DIE FLEDERMAUS BACKGROUND
The operetta's plot is a prank that Dr. Falke, a psychiatrist, played on his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein. (a rich playboy from the Austrian upper class) to revenge what Gabriel did to him.
L-R BRANCOVENAU and MYER
Several years ago, after the New Year custom's party in the Shönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Dr. Falke, dressed as a bat, drank too much and Gabriel left him, drunk, laying on a bench near the Vienna Pass which was traversed by all the aristocratic Viennese. After that night, some of these people started laughing at him, every time they saw him, and instead of Dr. Falke, began calling him Dr. Bat.
So, on this New year's Eve, and with the help of the young nephew of Tsar Alexander, Prince Orlofsky (STEPHANIE SANCHEZ because the role is always played by a woman) Dr. Falke decides to play a trick on von Eisenstein at the Prince's ball. The "trick" starts by taking Eisenstein to the ball himself, and sending hand written invitations to the Prince's ball to Rosalinde, his wife, and to Adele, their maid.
ELENA GALVAN in the role of Adele
As for Alfred and Rosalinde's background, they were lovers when Alfred was a tenor and Rosalinde an actress working at the same theatre. But Gabriel met Rosalinde and charmed her by promising to give her his unique music watch (A promise he used to seduce women.) Because Alfred was poor and Gabriel was a rich aristocratic, in two weeks, Rosalinde married him braking Alfred's heart.
In act One, which represents a room in the Eisenstein's house, we do not see Afred (ALEXANDER BOYER) but hear his voice off stage singing a serenade to Rosalinde (MARIA NATALE) on the street.
It is December 31th, and on that night Gabriel (EUGENE BRANCOVEANU) has to go to jail for ten days, but when he is is preparing to go Dr. Falke (BRIAN JAMES) comes to invite him to go with him to Prince Orlofsky (STEPHANIE SANCHEZ) New Year's party. And, as part of his prank, he had already invited Adele (ELENA GALVÁN) his maid, and Rosalinde (NATALE) his wife. In other acts we meet the other principal characters: Dr. Blind (MASON GATES) the lawyer, Ida (ELLEN LESLIE) Adele's sister and the jail keeper Frosch (JESSE MARLIN)
During the three acts we also learn what happens to Alfred when alone with Rosalinde in Gabriels's home Deputy Frank (NATHAN STARK) takes him to jail (instead of Eisenstein) by mistake. What happens to Adele when she goes to the ball dressed in Rosalinde's best gown, and the dire consequences suffered by Gabriel when he flirts at the party with his wife who is disguised as a Hungarian. and at the end, we laugh when Dr. Falke,'s prank, makes "bored" Prince Orlofsky laugh, for the first time.
The audience laughs all night. Watching the action and listening to the lyrics of the funny arias: "Nein, mit solchen Advokaten" (Eisenstein and Rosalinde) "Komm mit mir zum Souper" (Falke and Eisenstein) and "Mein Herr, was dächten sie von mir" (Frank, Alfred and Rosalinde)
The cast of Die FLEDERMAUS with MYER standing
We also relax listening to the music and walzes, the most beautiful "Brüderlein, und Scwesterlein" (Brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind) which is sang in chorus by all the guests at the Prince's ball.
Directed by Stage Director MARC JACOBS, and choreographed by ROBYN TRIBUZI, the intricate plot of the operetta moved smoothly in every scene, but we would like to mention a detail that did not fit in the production. It was inconceivable that in the year l900, the Aristocratic Viennese guests of the Russian Prince's ball could sing `Brüederlain" sitting on the floor.
Conductor MORGAN directed the music with vitality and feeling. The work was well cast, and the quality of tone in all the singers' voices was marvelous. GALVÁN's aria "Mein Herr Marquis" as Adele, was followed by a few minutes of applause. Tenor BOYER as Alfred was in voice that night. and so were Baritone BRANCOVEANU as Gabriel and MARIA NATALE as Rosalinde when together sang "Nein, mit sochen Advokatern" that was charming.
And in her role of Prince Orlofsky, Mezzo-Soprano SANCHEZ (Center) captivated the audience with her resonate tone of voice. The singing could have been perfect that night, if the enunciation of the German language of the singers had been better.
DIE FLEDERMAUS is fun operetta, and on its opening night, the combination of the gorgeous music of STRAUSS II, witty lyrics, great singers, colorful costumes (CATHLEEN EDWARDS) creative sets (CHARLIE SMITH) and lighting effects (PAMILA Z GRAY) created a an outstanding production.
DIE FLEDERMAUS is the third operetta of STRAUSS the Younger,( 1825-l899) the eldest son of the composer JOHANN STRAUS I, better known as "The Walz King" for his famous Viennese Walzes. Its plot was based in DAS GEFANIS (The Prison) A farce written by German Playwright JULIUS RODERICH BENEDIX, which premiered in Berlin in l851.
THERE WILL BE PERFORMANCES on September l9, 22 matinee, 27 and September 29 at the California Theatre 345 South 1st Street. Tickets are available by calling (408) 437-4450 by ordering the online at www.operasj.org/ or at Opera San Jose Box Office located at 2149 Paragon Drive in San José.