This famous opera – or operetta, depending on which form is used – stems from a farce that premiered in Berlin in 1851.
It eventually morphed into Die Fledermaus via a Parisian version called La Tzigane. But whatever its origins, it emerged as one of the most popular works in the repertoire.
The opera still has a farce-like element, not quite in the Brian Rix mould, but with mistaken identity, bogus names and obvious disguises, there is a strong element of fun.
That’s exactly what was delivered in Tayside Opera’s current production.
A joy to behold
Of the five principal protagonists in the tale, Tayside have a quintet that many societies, both amateur and professional, would love to get their hands on. The first act was their domain and, consequently, the action was smooth as silk and a joy to behold.
Moira Docherty (Rosalinda) and Russell Malcolm (Falke) are Tayside stalwarts and I knew what to expect from them. Top-class performances, and that’s what I got.
But I was taken aback by the unknown quality which joined them on stage. Bror Pike, as Gabriel, was quite a revelation and you’d go a long way to see such a polished and professional performance.
Laughter and mischief
Alex Hayes trod the right side of going over-the-top with his characterisation of Alfred, and I had to chuckle more than once at his outrageous habit of breaking into operatic arias.
Completing this line-up in style was Louise Thomson (Adele), catching the persona of a mischievous, coquettish chambermaid perfectly.
Acting –five stars. Singing – equally good, and if I had to choose a favourite, it would be Louise’s Laughing Song and Moira’s Czardas. Any ensemble work, trio or duet, was also faultless.
Rich and powerful mezzo/alto
I should also mention Elaine Young (Orlofsky), and I enjoyed her rich and powerful mezzo/alto voice.
However, I would have preferred a more relaxed approach to the role but I guess a more staid and formal style was the dictate of producer Alan Borthwick.
I had to feel a bit sorry for the chorus, for I know there’s nothing worse than an extended time in the dressing room awaiting your moment. However, that’s usually the lot of choruses in grand opera.
When their moment did come, in Act Two, they were a wee bit tentative, perhaps due to the constrictions of the stage in Brechin’s City Hall.
However, the concerted numbers – Sing To Love and Champagne – saw them in customary good voice.
There’s no point in having musical excellence on stage if it’s not mirrored in the pit.
It’s great to see that Tayside maintain the tradition of a proper orchestra, which I much, much prefer to the usual two keyboards, drums and brass set-up.
A bonus for music lovers
MD Richard Johnston has a fine and experienced crew at the end of his baton, made apparent from the opening bars of the overture throughout the performance.
With Fledermaus, Tayside are continuing to take unfaltering forward steps in the world of opera, which is a distinct boon to music lovers in and around Dundee.
You can catch their latest operatic foray in The Space, Dundee, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There’s much be recommended.