Wednesday, 19 March 1997

DIE FLEDERMAUS, Opera Australia, March 19, 1997

DIE FLEDERMAUS by Johann Strauss
Opera Australia
State Theatre , Arts Centre Melbourne March 19, 21, 25 April 2, 5, 7, 9, 19, 1997
Reviewed by Kate Herbert on March 19, 1997

So now we have Batman-The Opera.  Die Fledermaus, spectacularly well directed by Lindy Hume, is a hoot. 

Hume has based the whole production on the glamorous High Society of 1930's New York and has creatively pilfered images and characterisations from Hollywood movies. Marx Brothers routines and even Fred and Ginger make appearances.

Hume herself has added inventive and often hilarious dialogue to the English translation.   The accompanying translation of place and time allows many parallels to be drawn between the hedonism of both New York and late 19th century Vienna around the time of their respective stock market crashes. To us it may be just a bit of fluff but to Vienna in 1874 it was a barbed jibe at the upper classes.

The whole company was in fine voice and fine humour. They appear to be having a fabulous time. But it is Anthony Warlow who takes the laurels in the role of Eisenstein. His crystal light baritone, exuberant presence, impeccable characterisation and grasp of the style were faultless.

Wendy Dixon, replacing the ailing Ghillian Sullivan as Rosalinda, gave a sterling performance and as her Latin lover, Anson Austin, with his bell-like tenor, was convincingly and comically sexy. Amelia Chesher is adorably vivacious as the servant, Adele and Neil Kirkby, as the wronged Dr. Falke (Batman), is appropriately vengeful. Our exceptional comic actor, Geoff Kelso, is hilarious as the klutzy police officer, Frosch.

The naturalistic, Art Deco stage design by Richard Roberts provides a glorious backdrop to this opulent production particularly in conjunction with costumes by Angus Strathie. Dobbs Franks and the State Orchestra of Victoria do justice to the music of Johann Strauss.

Fledermaus is a joyful, naughty operetta and this production demonstrates the relationship between comic opera and our 20th century musical theatre. It walks all over something like, shall we say, Chessˇ?


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