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Subject: DIE FLEDERMAUS at the Met--more "shtik" than style? Dec 24
From: DAN KESSLER <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:DAN KESSLER <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 25 Dec 1998 12:52:12 -0500

text/plain (62 lines)

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

Happy holidays

Daniel Kessler

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