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Subject: Des Moines' FLEDERMAUS takes flight (7-7-18)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 12 Jul 2018 16:38:59 -0400

text/plain (71 lines)

My third opera(yes, it's out of order) at Des Moines Metro Opera was Fledermaus, which indeed is a work I always try to avoid. I have seen it so many times and find almost any portrayal of Frosch the Jailer to be so boring, that I almost always fall asleep in Act III; there is indeed so little singing and a lot of bad jokes. I have seen Sid Caesar, Dom DeLuise and so many more talents in this role and it's always been sad since these stars set the standard decades ago. I always have to laugh as when I tell people that I work for Frosch Travel they think it's named after the jailer, or perhaps the opera Die FRau Ohne SCHatten, which is abbreviated Frosch....NOPE!

Conductor-Robert Moody

Director-David Gately

Sets-R. Keith Brumley

Lights-Barry Steele

Costumes-Jonathan Knipscher

Alfred-Taylor Stayton

Adele-Anna Christy

Rosalinda-Susannah Biller

Gabriel von Eisenstein-David Pershall

Dr. Blind-Thomas J. Capobianco

Dr. Falke-Troy Cook

Frank-Craig Irvin

Sally-Abigail Paschke

Prince Orlovsky-Sarah Larsen

Frosch-Brian Frutiger

Ivan-Craig Juricka

Every time I hear the overture I start to hum and say what wonderful music, so why do I dislike this work so much? Who knows.

The production was moved to the 1920's which worked wonderfully and the costumes were simply gorgeous, lavish and perfect. The first act set was wonderful with the traditional orchestra pit hole at stage center but double steps down to a lower front stage left and right. There was a show curtain of black & white deco style shells or fans. Doors were left and right and we were in the Eisenstein Bauhaus-ish home, an elegant salon where Alfred was singing from outside the miniature conservatory at the rear. A large fireplace was at the left with a semi-nude deco painting of a woman above it. A long blue settee was center left upon which Rosalinda was relaxing with cucumbers on her eyes. Adele enters in a traditional black and white maid uniform with little hat and feather duster as Rosalinda rises in her light bronze silk pajama pants and top with a lacy edge. She has blonde hair, fluffy heeled slippers and a matching silky robe.

Mr. Stayton had lots of fun with the role of Alfred with numerous vocal interpolations starting with a cute high note "Sangue" and was so impressed with himself he noted, "che bella voce!" When he departs "addio" he goes up the outside steps at the rearand jumps Tosca-style crying "Avanti a dio!" This I LOVED and laughed at. 

Mr. Pershall's Eisenstein is in a three piece pinstripe double breasted suit, and again Alfred gets the attention due to his sneaking in during the trio and sneaking a drink from the bar at the rear (very well stocked, I noted).Mr. Cook's Falke was as dapper as could be in a dashing period tux with ornate white on white vest (even the buttons were elaborate); even his piano pattern socks could not go unnoticed. Eisenstein re-enters wearing a long robe/smoking jacket-like with red collar and dumps the crappy jail clothes on the settee before the two start a superb baritone duet, heartily sung with great forcefulness. Eisenstein changes to tails and white tie and is joined by his wife for "To part is such sweet sorrow" leading into the lilting "Oh goodness me what misery..." Alfred again gets the last laughs when he swipes Eisenstein's robe and calls, "Esultate!" and then manages to hide IN the bar during the Night & Day" finale to avoid being seen by the husband. During all this Rosalinda is taking chugging the booze.

Act II had a large red pouf closest to the edge of the stage with some chairs and small tables with red cloths, while at the rear there was a large "stained glass" panel; one could not help noticing the inlaid wooden floor pattern. Here is where the costumes for the guests went lavishly over the top 1920's with flappers, beads, feathers and just about anything you can imagine that fits. It has been ages since I have heard Anna Christy and she sounds and looks as good as she did way back when. I laughed again when she mentioned something about the "horse derves." Ms. Larsen was ravishing as Orlovsky in tails and white tie, but with knickers, an elaborate sash, an adorable moustache and green stockings with corona emblems stitched. Velvet shoes with crowns finished off the perfect costume.

"Chacun a son gout" began with an elaborate vodka toast and some superb singing. Ms. Christy's "One look at me, my dear Marquis..." pulled off every high note with flair as she acted the part to perfection. 

Rosalinda enters in a silvery jeweled mask with long earrings dangling from the mask front, that gave it an almost Turandot-ish look, a floor length gown with floral alce and balloon sleeves. Her feathered fan was always at hand and when she turned we saw that a dress can be cut as low as it can go. Ms. Biller's Czardas, "Voice of my homeland..." had her on the puf splitting her legs so that the slilnky dress rose as high as it could go without revealing too much. Her voice was perfectly suited to this, but boy would I like to hear her sing some gutsy music next, as I know she is made of that stuff!

"Champagne's Delicious Bubbles" was fun and we had Mr Cook's delicious warm baritone intro for "Sing to love." Ms. Paschke's Sally was extremely noticeable here with some amazing and funny dancing as she entered in red pointe shoes, a big feather headdress and pink tutu with black lace to trip all over herself and the four male dancers who carried her out clearly drunk. Just when you thought she was finished, she came back on for the rousing finale and as she did turns she managed to knock out all her dance partners.

Act III had stairs down to the pit(where the jail cells are supposed to be) at the front, as well as stairs into the building at the rear left. A desk is at the left with file cabinets. We are treated to a long introduction by Frosch with such tidbits as "this is not an opera house, it's a respectable establishment," and "there's a hole in the floor" when he spots the orchestra pit.  I did love the fact that he tried to play the rubber jail cell bars at the rear left like a harp, while the real harp played "O Quel'amor che palpitar" (from Traviata) and he quacked the response "dell'universo…" and commented, "never had a lesson in my life." When Frank enters he sings the Fledermaus Waltz in falsetto which was most entertaining. Craig Irvin is another Wolf Trap YA who has settled down in the area and is a regular at DMMO. I hope he manages to get his voice more exposure as it is a really wonderful one. Adele enters and tries to sing for Frank "I have prepared an audition..." with a piercing final high note that did manage to keep me awake through Act III, as I so often doze off. The line that she is a "milkmaid...when a cow looks in my eyes, her milk begins to pasteurize" is a winner. I recall someone drinking liquor and Frosch asks them "what do you do for a living," to which the response is opera singer, and he hands over the flask with a "you need it more than I do." The mock trial trio takes place and the opera, blessedly, ends quickly with the entire entourage returning in those fabulous gowns. So five or six Fledermauses in the last 16 years is my max for now....but this was entertaining and featured a superb cast.

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