Opera: Die Fledermaus – Johann Strauss

“Die Fledermaus” or “The Bat,” a comic operetta in three acts, the book by Haffner and Genée and music by Johann Strauss, was first performed in Vienna in July, 1874. It is founded on ” Le Reveillon, ” by Meilhac and Halévy.

CHARACTERS

Von Eisenstein, a Baron. Alfred, a singing-master. Frosch, a court-usher. Frank, a prison director. Dr. Blind, an attorney. Dr. Falke, a notary. Ivan, Prince Chamberlain. Ali Bey, an Egyptian. Murray, an American. Cancorney, a Marquis. Rosalinde, wife of Eisenstein. Prince Orlofsky. Adèle, Rosalinda’s maid. Lord Middleton. Dancers and masqueraders.

Happy he, who can see Life is all a comedy.

sing the characters consistently in ” The Bat,” and they are faithful to their creed. The scene of this gay little adventure is laid in Germany in the last century. In Act I, we are grieved to find that Herr von Eisenstein has been sentenced to eight days’ imprisonment for contempt of court. His friend, Doctor Falke, who has been the victim of one of Von Eisenstein’s practical jokes whereby after a masked ball he has had to walk home through the streets in broad daylight in the unusual guise of a bat or flittermouse, decides to settle the score. Accordingly, he persuades Von Eisenstein to ignore his sentence and attend with him the ball given by Prince Orlofsky, an eccentric young Russian with a penchant for ladies of the ballet. Falke also invites to the festivity Rosalinde, the Baron’s wife and Adèle, her maid. After the departure of Von Eisenstein and Doctor Falke, Rosalinde receives a visit from a former admirer, Alfred, a music teacher. So much does he make himself at home that when the warden of the jail, which is fairly yawning for Von Eisenstein, calls for his prisoner, Alfred is mistaken for the husband. To put the matter in the best light possible, Alfred allows himself to be arrested, and is led off attired in Von Eisenstein’s dressing-gown.

In Act II, the ball is in progress at Prince Orlofsky’s house. Here are assembled all the dramatis personae, except, for obvious reasons, Alfred. Von Eisenstein, Falke, Rosalinde, who is masked, Adèle and Frank, are all posing as others than themselves. Rosalinde has a desperate flirtation with her own husband and succeeds in relieving him of his watch. The ball is a great success but it comes to an untimely end when Rosalinde, whose identity is about to be discovered by her husband, makes the clock strike six and the revelers run away thinking the dawn has surprised them. In the morning, all the guests go to visit Frank at the jail and find that instead of being the Chevalier, as he has represented himself, he is a warden. Adèle, thinking him an important personage, has come to beg his influence in securing her master’s forgiveness for having worn her mistress’ dress at the ball. Frank unfortunately is still under the influence of the champagne he drank the night before, and his jailor, Frosch, also is intoxicated.

Von Eisenstein, coming to give himself up as a prisoner, is astonished to find that another, arrested at his residence as Rosalinda’s husband, is serving his term. Alfred, who does not recognize him, confides the whole story to him and affairs become greatly complicated. Rosalinda’s arrival further entangles matters until she confronts her husband with damaging evidence against him in the shape of his own watch and he is forced to be forgiving and so is forgiven.

While the libretto of ” The Bat ” may not be of remarkable value, the score is excellent. As usual, the waltz king indulges his love of dance-music and charming waltzes, czardas, polkas, romanzas and drinking songs abound.