NORTHAMPTON — Although Valley Light Opera specializes in Gilbert and Sullivan productions, the company is venturing into the realm of other light comic operettas: its next production will be Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.
The show, which has been called “a comedic riot of flirtation, mistaken identity and lavish music”, will be performed in November at the Northampton Academy of Music.
“Our musical director, Aldo Fabrizi, liked the challenge and complexity of Die Fledermaus and was able to convince the board to put the show on,” said Thom Griffin, the director. “Having already directed this show, I threw my hat in the ring for another chance to lead the VLO.”
The show centers around a plot concocted by Dr. Falke (Ramsey Kurdi). He throws a lavish party at the Austrian residence of Prince Orlofsky, a Russian nobleman (Heather Williams). Attending the party are Gabriel Eisenstein, a womanizing aristocrat (Matthew Taylor); Rosalinde Eisenstein, (Elaine Crane) a hitherto happy wife who succumbs to the musical advances of an old beau, Alfred (Ted Blaisdell); Adele (Nicole Newell), a maid; and her sister Ida (Rory Mason). The main characters are rounded out by prison warden Frank (Micheel Budnick) and his assistant, Frosch (Tim McNemey).
“Die Fledermaus” translates from German as “the bat”.
Months before the action in the series, Eisenstein and Falke had attended a costume party together. Falke had left disguised as a bat. Both men had a little too much to drink. “On the way home, Falke passed out and Eisenstein had him dropped off in the middle of the town square where he woke up to a crowd of people laughing at him,” Griffin explained. “What ensues in ‘Revenge of the Bat’.”
After the work’s premiere in 1874, Die Fledermaus remained in the repertoire of many major opera houses around the world. “Without a doubt, the staying power is due to the sumptuous music,” Griffin said.
There have been several rewrites of the original librettos; VLO uses the one written by its own Rosalinde, Elaine Crane.
The show contains many popular songs, but “without a doubt, the opening itself is the most popular piece on the show,” Griffin said. “It is often offered as a stand-alone piece by many orchestras. Of course, the opening has many themes that are then heard later in the show.
He acknowledged that “some people are immediately discouraged” when they hear the word opera, “yet these same people enjoy and attend musicals”.
Die Fledermaus is an operetta, he explained, “which is essentially a European musical”.
Audiences “can expect to hear very familiar music that will have them tapping their feet,” he added. “The comedic situation that is being set up will thoroughly entertain them.”
Die Fledermaus take the stage on November 5, 11 and 12 at 7.30pm and November 6 and 13 at 2pm at the Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton. Reserved seating is $37, but there are other ticket prices. For more information, visit vlo.org Where aomtheatre.com or call 413-584-9032.
If you are going to:
Event: Die Fledermaus
When: Nov. 5, 11, 12 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 6 and 13 at 2 p.m.
Where: Academy of Music, 274 Main St., Northampton
Reserved seats: $37