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Johann STRAUSS (1825-1899)

Studio Recording

Eisenstein – Matthias Klink
Rosalinde – Michela Sburlati
Frank – Raphael Sigling
Prince Orlofsky – Marisa Altmann-Althausen
Alfred – Francesco Maracci
Dr. Falke – Andrea Martin
Dr. Blind - Peter Sonn
Adele – Natalie Karl
Ida – Beate Gabriel
Frosch – [part omitted]
Live Recording

Eisenstein – Michael Kupfer
Rosalinde – Michela Sburlati
Frank – Raphael Sigling
Prince Orlofsky – Marisa Altmann-Althausen [Couplet No.7, CD 3 Track 16, special Guest Nadja Michael]
Alfred – Francesco Maracci
Dr. Falke – Andrea Martin
Dr. Blind – Arturo Cauli
Adele – Paola Antonucci
Ida – Beate Gabriel
Frosch – Gerhard Lippert
Recorded, both versions, Tiroler Festpiele, Erl, July 2002
ARTE NOVA 74321 98339 2 [4 CDs: 50.57 + 44.30 + 71.55 + 68.07]


This is an unusual set. In an example of singular Germanic humour the cover booklet tells us that we have Die Fledermäuse. And this is perfectly true; we have a colony of them, if we can stretch two bats that far. What’s more odd still is that this is, give or take a cast change or two, the same performance – one studio bound, the other from live performance. They were taped presumably days apart in July 2002 and why they should be yoked together in this way is anyone’s guess – it certainly isn’t mine. The booklet does go into what I hope is – but fear isn’t - earnestly humorous justification that smacks of the Existential; "the image and the conception of it, the thought and its realisation, the spirit and its rememberable embodiment." Strewth and I thought it was one studio recording yoked to a later stage performance.

Since the main difference is in the Eisenstein and most of the other cast members remain constant it makes this very much a performer-orientated purchase. Obviously the studio recording is better balanced; equally obviously on stage some voices are more distant from the microphone (in Act I’s Täubchen, das entflattert ist for instance, where the Alfred of Francesco Maracci is up stage). In that main cast change of Eisenstein (I wonder why) Michael Kupfer (live) turns out to be bluffer than Klink (studio) and somewhat heavier of voice as well. In the other important change Natalie Karl’s Adele is creamier than her concert replacement Paola Antonucci who has a spinto edge. In their duet Komm mit mir Andrea Martin and Klink are more elegant than the concert pair of Martin and Kupfer – and they have better orchestral precision behind them as well, though Martin is good in both. The Rosalinde of Michela Sburlati is common to both and sings with verve. There are pluses and minuses in the live performance – in the trio So muss allein Gustav Kuhn relaxes the tempo very slightly in the concert. The biggest difference between the two however is that the recitative, which is abandoned in the studio, is obviously reinstated for the live performance. When it’s done well, as in Act II’s Ach meine Herr’n und Damen it gets rightful laughter.

The notes are in German and English, though the libretto is in German only. I’m not going to make recommendations or otherwise with Ackermann and Karajan et al – this is a very special case. If you want bats you’ve got them here; if you want a solitary bat you will go elsewhere. This is more of a souvenir of the accomplishments of the orchestra, choir, soloists and conductor that month in the Tirol Festspiele.

Jonathan Woolf


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