Die Fledermaus

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I try to see a couple of operas a year…..if only there were more time in my schedule to see operas, musicals, modern dance, ballets, and concerts. I could happily attend several a week and unlike the sick feeling one gets from too much ice cream or whiskey, the more music and dance in my life, the more I crave.

The San Francisco Opera, albeit not New York, has an interesting upcoming season, including Rigoletto (Verdi), the infamous Barber of Seville which I always love, Carmen, Manon Lescaut (Puccini) and Der Rosenkavalier (Strauss) to name a few.

I saw Die Fledermaus last week (Johann Strauss), which was more of an opera, comedy of errors, and musical combined. There was an air of hedonism and naughty playfulness pervading scene after scene, particularly in the first and third acts.

Amazon.com senior editor Thomas May writes of the production, where he references the humorous slap-stick like additions, including modern references to European Idle and the like. (moments of common references for us all, i.e., cronies in jail, desperate housewives).

He writes, “Stuffing a production with too much frolicking can simply bloat it. The device of the masquerade likewise relies on creatively fluid identities. Not only do these characters have to play at roles, but there are accents (satirically fake or not) that come along with these: Russian, French, Hungarian — and all this while the bubbly is continually being plied.”

An accurate account. An unexpected treat was the ballet duo in Act II, which left me breathless. The best I’ve seen? Not by far, but I’ve seen a lot of dance performances in my life…..does it have to be the best you’ve seen to leave you breathless? With dance, never. Abundance of expression, movement, joy, and color, qualities so visually lacking in our everyday lives.

Ballet, waltzing and opera combined, we also get festive singing, “surexcite par le champagne”:

His magesty we celebrate,
Celebrate, long and late;
Joyously together
We toast Champagne the Great!


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