Palm Beach Opera – Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus – Emily Blair, Diana Newman, Stephanie Blythe, Jack Swanson, Tobias Greenhalgh & Zach Borichevsky; directed by Dona D. Vaughn; conducted by David Stern

Johann Strauss II
Die Fledermaus – Comic operetta in three Acts to a libretto by Carl Haffner & Richard Genée after the play Le Réveillon by Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy [sung in an English translation by Ruth & Thomas Martin; dialogue by Dona D. Vaughn; English supertitles by Ksenia Leletkina]

Alfredo – Jack Swanson
Adele – Diana Newman
Rosalinde – Emily Blair
Eisenstein – Zach Borichevsky
Dr Blind – Michael Anderson
Dr Falke – Tobias Greenhalgh
Frank – Wayne Tigges
Ida – Joanna Latini
Prince Orlofsky – Stephanie Blythe
Ivan – David Smith-Larsen
Frosch – John Felix [spoken role]

Palm Beach Opera Chorus & Orchestra
David Stern

Dona D. Vaughn – Director
Gary Eckhart – Scenic Designer
Zach Brown – Costumes
Tyler Micoleau – Lighting
Mara Newbery Greer – Choreographer
Kathy Waszkelewicz – Hair & Makeup

Reviewed by: David M. Rice

Reviewed: 22 March, 2019
Venue: Dreyfoos Concert Hall, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, West Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach Opera – Johann Strauss II’s Die FledermausPhotograph: Palm Beach OperaPalm Beach Opera concludes its 2019 season with a delightfully effervescent production of Die Fledermaus. With handsome (on-loan) scenery and costumes, proceedings are as pleasing to the eye as to the ear, while Dona D. Vaughn’s direction sustains the nonstop pace of the farcical plot and the choreography complements the music. David Stern’s brisk tempos generate high energy – from the Overture through to the final champagne toast.

Emily Blair, a first-year member of the company’s Benenson Young Artist Program, replaces Chloé Olivia Moore and is a fine Rosalinde, cleverly toying with – and getting the better of – her husband, Eisenstein. The ‘Csárdás’, sung as Rosalinde pretends to be a Hungarian countess, is a highlight; and Diana Newman similarly shows off brilliant coloratura to give a flamboyant portrayal of Rosalinde’s maid, Adele.

Palm Beach Opera – Johann Strauss II’s Die FledermausPhotograph: Palm Beach OperaA bearded Stephanie Blythe, wearing a greatcoat decorated with medals, is convincing in the trouser-role of Orlofsky. Alongside the able Tobias Greenhalgh, her singing and acting are brilliant as she plays along with Dr Falke’s elaborate prank on Eisenstein, a trap to gain “the revenge of the bat” for a practical joke perpetrated on him. Following the tradition of interpolating extras to divert the guests at Orlofsky’s soirée, Blythe, with the chorus, gives a rendition of ‘Nessun dorma’ that would make any tenor proud.

Jack Swanson is winningly comedic as Alfredo, adding snatches of Italian arias when wooing Rosalinde, and suitably flustered when he is mistaken for Eisenstein and arrested by the prison warden, Frank, taken excellently by Wayne Tigges. As the real Eisenstein, Zach Borichevsky is consistently entertaining as the wind goes out of his sails as he unsuccessfully tries to seduce his own (disguised) wife.

Palm Beach Opera – Johann Strauss II’s Die FledermausPhotograph: Palm Beach Opera

Falke’s plot has Eisenstein and Frank in the guises of French aristocrats, although neither speaks the language, making their attempts to converse hilarious. Actor John Felix is amusing as the jailer Frosch, misapprehending much going on around him, such as confusing “chevalier” with “Chevrolet”.

The excellent vocals are matched by clarity of diction, minimizing the need to consult projected words. The English translation of sung texts serves the plot – if at the expense of some groan-worthy rhymes. The oft-employed combination of original-language lyrics with English dialogue and supertitles would be preferable.

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