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Johann STRAUSS (1825 - 1899)
Die Fledermaus - operetta in three acts (1884)
Herbert Lippert (tenor) - Gabriel von Eisenstein; Alexandra Reinprecht (soprano) - Rosalinde; Harald Serafin (baritone) - Frank; Daniela Fally (soprano) - Adele; Daniel Serafin (baritone) - Dr. Falke; Zoryana Kushpler (mezzo) - Prinz Orlofsky; Angus Wood (tenor) - Alfred; Helmuth Lohner (speaking role) - Frosch; Gernot Heinrich (tenor) - Dr. Blind; Daniela Lehner (soprano) - Ida; Fedir Hubachov (speaking role) - Iwan
Chor und Ballett der Seefestspiele Mörbisch; Statisterie der Seefestspiele Mörbisch, Festival Orchester Mörbisch/Manfred Mayrhofer
Direction: Helmuth Lohner
Sets and Costumes: Amra Buchbinder
Choreography: Giorgio Madia
Light design: Friedrich Rom
Picture format: 16:9; Sound format: Dolby Digital 5.0 (Surround); Region Code: 0; Subtitles: English
rec. live, Seefestspiele Mörbisch 2012
VL KLASSIK VLMD019 [180:00]

The Seefestspiele Mörbisch is an annual operetta festival held since 1957 during the summer at Mörbisch am See in Austria. With approximately 150,000 visitors it is the biggest operetta festival in the world. The repertoire is basically drawn from the established Viennese standard works with occasionally some lesser known things. During the last few years there have also been a couple of musicals: My Fair Lady in 2009 and Jerry Bock’s Anatevka (Fiddler on the Roof) is scheduled for 2014. Last year (2012) they showcased “the operetta of operettas” and very successful it was and remains.
 
The director Helmuth Lohner, who also is an inimitable and show-stealing Frosch in the last act, has produced a charming, entertaining, colourful and suitably crazy Fledermaus. He focuses quite a lot on the dancing quality of the music and engages the excellent ballet for several spectacular inserted numbers: a Furioso Polka by the elder Strauss and Tik-Tak-Polka by Johann. He even introduces the dancers during the overture, in Pierrot costumes. All the ballet scenes are as delicious and sweet as the traditional Sachertorte, served with the obligatory whipped cream. The whole production is youthful and vital, belying the director’s age: he turned eighty in April this year - 2013. With a career of more than sixty years as actor on stage, in films and television and as director of spoken theatre, opera and operetta, he knows all the facets of a successful production.
 
Another veteran also makes his mark in this production. Harald Serafin, born 1931, finished his twenty years’ sojourn as general manager of the festival with this production by taking the role of Frank, the prison director. He still sings with remarkable lightness and is a brilliant actor, not least through his expressive ‘rubber’ face. For me it was particularly fascinating to see him, because I saw and heard him as Danilo in Die lustige Witwe at Theater an der Wien more than forty years ago.
 
That his talent is inherited by the next generation is quite obvious when one sees his son Daniel as Dr. Falke in this production: handsome, excellent actor and wonderful singer. Just watch and listen to him in the act II finale (Ch. 8), where his Brüderlein is truly enchanting.
 
As Gabriel von Eisenstein we meet Herbert Lippert, an admirable lyric tenor whom I first encountered as Tamino on the Naxos recording of Die Zauberflöte almost twenty years ago. His smooth and expressive tenor is still in wonderful shape and he makes the most of the many comic situations he faces.
 
Alfred, the ‘lover’ of Eisenstein’s wife, is a typical Italian tenor and Angus Wood is wholeheartedly Italianate, singing his entrance aria carrying an Orpheian lyre and holding his final note forever.
 
The Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Zoryana Kushpler is a magnificent Orlofsky, alluring in her appearance and more full-blooded, less blasé than the traditional Russian prince. Since 2007 she has been a member of the ensemble at the Vienna State Opera, where one of her colleagues is Alexandra Reinprecht, the Rosalinda in this production. Having spent some years at the Vienna Volksoper she is well versed in operetta. A splendid actress and brilliant singer she makes Klänge der Heimat (Ch. 7) one of the highlights of the performance.
 
The young Daniela Fally has made Adele something of a speciality. She was even awarded the Eberhard Waechter Medal for her interpretation of the role some years ag. This is understandable enough since she is a great comedienne and has extraordinary coloratura technique, including a superb trill.
 
The playing of the orchestra is, it need hardly be said, idiomatic and technically first class. The gusto of Unter Donner und Blitz in the party scene in act II is infectious and the chorus is also very good.
 
A minor warning: due to the outdoor setting the singing has to be amplified, and the microphones can be a bit disturbing when the cameras are zoomed-in for close-ups. One soon forgets this and the reproduction of the singing is impeccable.
 
I have long been very fond of the Covent Garden production of Fledermaus, conducted by Placido Domingo and with Hermann Prey, Kiri Te Kanawa and Benjamin Luxon among the soloists. The present version now joins that established favourite. My wife is no great admirer of Die Fledermaus, but she almost got into a trance from the very beginning and this is the highest mark a production can get. Trust my wife’s judgement and place your orders.
 
Göran Forsling 

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