The Met has invited the musical comedy team of Betty Comden and Adolph
Green to ~Qspruce' things up a bit, and for the most part they did by
jettisoning a number of tasteless sight gags from the piece. On the whole,
I thought it worked very nicely even though the introduced a more than a
few cliches of their own here and there. One of their conceits is to dress
up Frosch as a would-be Austrian Emperor Franz Josef as played by actor Max
Wright. It worked fine for a while, but I thought they left the character
~Qstranded' in Act III.
The excitement of the evening for me was the Met debut of Danish baritone,
Bo Skovhus as Eisenstein as well as the debut of conductor Patrick Summers,
who gave the pacing a nice rubato. Skovhus cut a handsome figure and
displayed a quality high baritone voice as well as a dazzling stage
presence. His BILLY BUDD on St. Valentine's Day last, for Houston for me
was the best ever and he seemed to make something very special and likeable
about the role of Eisenstein.
Carol Vaness was Rosalinde. I always find that there is a projection of an
aura of sadness with this artist which works fine for Fiordiligi in COSI or
the Countess in FIGARO or other damaged ladies, such as TOSCA, etc.
However, in FLEDERMAUS, her Rosalinde didn't seem to be risking anything
and she seemed too far removed from the middle European tradition of
Rosalindes to be believable. She couldn't quite manage the D natural at
the close of the Czardas which was more an approximation than an actual
note. Frankly, for my money, the last good Rosalinde at the Met was
Barbara Daniels whose European career started in Innsbruck in the late 70's
and went on to Cassel, Frankfurt, Cologne, etc. During those years, she
had an opportunity to observe the Middle European tradition in coaching of
that role so that she could make her Rosalinde more ~Qechte' than what we
see in American sopranos today who tend to be a bit on the ~Qsuburban' side..
Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz was Adele and sang in spite of an announced
indisposition of a sore throat. Her voice seemed to be a bit small in this
German counter-tenor Jochen Kowalski seemed very assured, more so than last
time, in the role of Orlovsky but may not be to the liking of those who
still prefer a mezzo in this role.
There were some more agreeable touches in the few dance sequences and thank
God, they got rid of that Congo line at the end of Act II.
Still, in spite of everything, it was enjoyable evening since no company
ever seems to get FLEDERMAUS right, but that doesn't stop them from trying.
Rosalinde Carol Vaness
Gabriel von Eisenstein Bo Skovhus [debut]
Alfred Michael Schade
Adele Elizabeth Norbert-Schulz
Dr. Fledermaus Earle Patriarco
Dr. Blind Anthony Laciura
Jail Warden John DelCarlo
Prince Orlovsky Jochen Kowalski
Ida Jennifer Welch
Frosch Max Wright [actor, debut]
Conductor Patrick Summers [debut]
Original Production Otto Schenk/Gunther Schneider-Siemssen