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  Founder: Len Mullenger

Strauss, J Jnr (1825-1899) - Overture: Die Fledermaus

An operetta is literally a “little opera”, originally a play with overture, songs and dances, but which has evolved into something indistinguishable from opera except for being set to “light music”. We all know what that means, but are hard-pressed to define it, except by example. The classic examples are (would you believe?) the music of Johann Strauss Sohn. Die Fledermaus (1847) is his best known, and unquestionably best loved, operetta, the third of a series of stage works that he embarked upon at the prompting of Offenbach, no less. Like so many works now firmly embedded in our affections, it had a distinctly chilly reception, getting the chop after a measly 16 performances in Vienna. 

The overture is firmly in the tradition established by Rossini and continued in our century by the likes of George Gershwin, which is a “trailer” for the goodies in store. It even starts with a traditional audience “shutter-upper” (so, be warned!), succeeded by a veritable cascade of melodies so mouth-watering that one can only wonder what it would have taken to please those miserable Viennese, 150 years ago. It does, though, make considerable demands on the performers, who must be alive to its many and extreme changes of pace: not generally a feature of his waltzes and polkas, these are the key to much of the hair-raising excitement of this incredibly entertaining music.

© Paul Serotsky
29, Carr Street, Kamo, Whangarei 0101, Northland, New Zealand


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