Die Fledermaus

Johann Strauss Jr, libretto by Richard Genée and Karl Haffner
Croatian National Theatre
Croatian National Theatre, Zagreb

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The Cast of Die Fledermaus Credit: Croatian National Theatre
The Cast of Die Fledermaus Credit: Croatian National Theatre
The Cast of Die Fledermaus Credit: Croatian National Theatre

Die Fledermaus, which premièred in Vienna in 1874, is a satire on the hypocritical, cynical, promiscuous bourgeoisie who are not in the first flush of youth.

The libretto is based on two plays: a German comedy, The Prison by Julius Roderich Benedix, and a French vaudeville play, Le Revellion by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. The operetta needs singers who are farceurs and lots of comic invention.

Strauss wanted to be accessible to audiences who would not normally go to opera. His frothy, jolly, silly operetta is the most popular operetta in the world. The effervescent music is a constant delight.

Krešimir Dolenčić’s production, conducted by Srba Dinić, lacks that essential hedonistic (chacun à son gout) champagne sparkle. Dolenčić does not know what to with the chorus in act two who just hang around. A polka, danced by a bronzed soloist dancer, is cute; but Strauss is famous for his waltzes and the stage should be awhirl with dancing. The whole performance needs to go back to its erotic vaudeville roots and be more titillating.

Domagoj Dorotić is the philandering husband who goes to a louche party and doesn’t recognize his wife (Valentina Fijačko Kobić) who is in disguise and starts flirting with her. Maria Kuhar Šoša is a vivacious chambermaid who want to be an actress and hooks up with Prince Orlofsky (played by a woman in drag) who has taken a fancy to her. Oszren Bilušić is amusing as a drunken Prison Warden.

Frosch the gaoler, a non-singing role for a famous comedian, is notable for his absence, presumably because Croatia’s National Theatre couldn’t find anybody funny enough to play the role.

The Croatian National Theatre’s Die Fledermaus can be watched free online on the OperaVision channel.

Reviewer: Robert Tanitch

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