Die Fledermaus Pleases the Ear
Paul Brissett, Duluth News Tribune
October 18, 2013
A delightful production of Johann Strauss II’s farcical operetta Die Fledermaus opened Thursday at the Marshall Performing Arts Center. It’s a joint production of UMD’s Theater and Music Departments.
It’s not as side-splittingly funny as the first (and previously most recent) production I saw 50 years ago, but that might be attributable to the maturation of both my sense of humor and my appreciation for music.
While the entire cast takes the acting to the very top and the show provides plenty of laughs, this production didn’t appear to have anyone in the near-capacity house literally weeping with laughter.
The musical performances, though, were nearly enough to have one weep at their beauty, except for the fact this is such a funny show. The orchestra was flawless throughout and the vocals were delivered with authority, confidence and panache.
Alice Pierce, UMD voice instructor, directed the English libretto by Ruth and Thomas Martin and Jean R. Perrault, UMD director of orchestras and associate professor, conducted.
Die Fledermaus (German for “the bat”) is the tale of an elaborate practical joke played in revenge of one many years before.
The butt of the joke is Eisenstein, played by Zachary Winkler, whose first-rate comic timing and superb tenor voice almost offset his too-boyish looks.
His wife, Rosalinde, was played Thursday by Amanda Bush, who dominated virtually every scene she was in with her stature, carriage and, most of all, the sheer strength of her soprano voice.
A key figure in the plot is the couple’s maid, Adele, played Thursday by Kayla Mudgett, an exceptionally skilled comedienne with a lovely and facile, if sometimes too thin, soprano voice.
Rosalinde and Adele are played by different performers on alternate performances.
Another outstanding voice was the soprano of Christina Christensen, who played Prince Orlovsky, a role traditionally assigned to a woman.
The comic standout, though, had to be Luke Votava as Frank, whose physicality was as impressive as his baritone voice.
Scenic Designer Curt Philips created a completely different, and richly detailed, look for each of the operetta’s three acts, and Costume Designer Patricia Dennis provided the show with a delicious array of 1920s fashion.
At three hours, the show seemed much longer than I recalled, even though with age time generally speeds up. Perhaps my original experience had been cut a bit, eliminating, for example, the comic ballet in Act II, which, although well-executed and mildly amusing, did little to advance the plot.
Or perhaps that earlier show had eliminated some of the songs, something I probably would not have noticed at 16, but would be sorry to have missed Thursday.
Die Fledermaus is an operetta that originated from Germany. There are many different parts to this story and different lessons, but the main point was for Falke (the bat) to get revenge on Eisenstein for leaving him after a party, when he was drunk, on a park bench in a bat costume. There are many different sidelines to this story that keeps the audience entertained and waiting for what’s next!
There were plenty of fascinating parts to this show that came from the actors, the set, director, lighting, and everyone else who was involved in making it happen. The lighting and the set design really mixed well for this show. In the first scene at Eisenstein and Rosalindes home the set and furniture made those in the audience as if they were transported back in time and when the lights hit it they made it look elegant, bright and rich. The amount of detail that was put in the set in the short amount of time given was spectacular. The floor was elegantly painted along with the arches for the house with all the different colors perfectly blended together. Although you could tell that the backdrop had the projection on it, it wasn’t highly pixelated so it looked close to real.
Although theatre is all about working together if you have one part that is lacking it can change the whole feeling of the show. This operetta was not lacking at all in any section that made it come together as a whole. One thing that was impressive was how well the actors and actresses made their characters believable. From the audience it was possible to tell how into it each and every actor was from their facial expressions to their grand gestures and elegant movements. There were so many characters that stood out and a few are Warden Frank, Falke, Frosch, Alfred, and Orlovsky. These were the characters that seemed to be the most into their character and mad them the most believable. Warden Frank and Frosch’s best scene that stands out the most is in the jail. For Falke his best scene was convincing Eisenstein to go to the ball before he went to jail. Orlovsky and Alfred did a wonderful job in every scene they were in.
This play is definitely worth attending for all of the things the human mind processes while attending this operetta is incredible. Although it is opera and to an untrained ear at some points can be hard to understand which didn’t happen very often in this production. For those who are deaf don’t be discouraged to come see this show for there were interpreters who did a wonderful job at producing an interpretation of this show that was easy to follow and easy to see. This show was definitely wonderful and the actors and actresses told this story very well.
Staged in the 1920s around Vienna, Die Fledermeus, is an Operetta centered around a hilarious revenge, betrayal, and the Waltz. Written by Johann Strauss, it opened in Germany and was widely popular in its hay day. It still continues to be one of Strauss’s most popular operettas. It became much more popular in America when Ruth and Thomas Martin translated it into English. The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s production opened Thursday and is a collaboration of UMD’s Music and Theater Departments.
The three act production starts off in the home of Eisenstein, played by Zachery Winkler, and his wife Rosalinde, played by Amanda Bush (on opening night). As a man who is spending his last day of freedom he calls upon his good old friend Falke, played by Robert Banks, to help him life his life to the fullest on that night and head off to jail in the morning. Little does Eisenstein realize that his old friend is ready to play a trick on him that is the whole basis of the show. Another major player in this production is Adele, played by Kayla Mudgett (on opening night). As the chamber maid of Eisenstein and Rosealinde she plays a major part in Falke’s revenge story. The second act takes place in a Princes castle, Prince Orlovsky, played by Christina Christensen, is a role generally given to a female actor, she generally did well with the Russian accent and it wasn’t overall fake which is always a nice touch. But what the audience seemed to love the most was the character Frank, played by Luke Votava. Frank is the warden of the jail that Eisenstein is destined to go to at the beginning of the play. Luke brilliantly played all the different emotion from stone-cold warden, to drunken playboy, back to a less stone-cold version of the warden.
With a full orchestra as the pit there were a few times when they overpowered the singers and it was difficult to hear what they were saying. The pit was spot on the whole entire performance and played quite well even though Strauss’s waltzes are no easy task. The UMD orchestra was the pit and they were directed by Jean “Rudy” Perrault.
The set, designed by Curt Philips, really set the feeling for each act as well as the overall time frame. Die Fledermaus had a beautiful stained glass inspired floor, and the set as a whole used this very well designed arches that really fit the time and style of the play. The costumes were beautifully designed. Since it was set in the 1920s you would assume that all the female characters would be wearing the “flapper” style of clothing. It was a nice surprise to not see flapper dresses everywhere.
UMD's production of Die Fledermaus was very well done and did its job to make the audience laugh!
Die Fledermaus, an operetta that is originally from Germany, was written by Johann Strauss II. The English translation of the operetta Die Fledermaus was recently produced in the Marshall Performing Arts Center at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. There were many things about this play that were executed perfectly, however, the script itself seems to be somewhat outdated.
The actors did their jobs incredibly well. They all formed very believable characters by assuming the persona of the characters themselves. It was interesting to see how well the music majors were at acting. One would expect the theater majors to be more adept at acting, but the two were indistinguishable between each other. Zachary Winkler, who played the character of Gabriel Eisenstein, impressed the audience with his strong tenor voice and excellent diction. Luke Votava took on the role of Frank. As the hilarious jail warden, Votava provided most of the show's comedy. The young Russian Prince Orlovsky, played by Christina Christensen, also brought comedy to the stage. All of the performers had well maintained voices that sounded wonderful.
Die Fledermaus's designers also did an excellent job of creating the visual and aural elements of the show. The costumes, designed by Pat Dennis, not only alluded to the time of the 1920's, but also brought out parts of each character's own persona. The lighting, designed by Mark Harvey, filled the first and second scenes with a bright and happy atmosphere, and provided a dark and gloomy one for the scene in the jail. The scenic design, created by Curtis Phillips, was amazing. The elegant pillars, magnificent grand staircase, and luxurious candelabras made the scenes themselves much more believable and interesting to watch. The sound, which was designed by Christopher Gumpper, added an amazing effect in the jail scene. The echoes of the actor's voices created the illusion that the scene actually was in a jail.
While the people who worked with the show did everything they could to make it succeed, the script itself seems to lack in certain areas. The plot, for example, really doesn't make much sense. Eisenstein tricked Falke into walking home in a bat suit. Falke, who is embarrassed by this, decides to convince Eisenstein to cheat on his wife with his wife in disguise, most likely ending in a divorce. That seems like a very large jump for Falke. Also, there were many scenes that took far too long. The dancing that took place in Orlovsky's palace, while beautiful and well executed, seemed to go on for ten minutes and did nothing to move the plot along. Moreover, this show was advertised as a very funny show that would entertain throughout the performance. However, about eighty percent of the operetta's comedy came from drunken stumbling. While this can be humorous, it becomes quite old. There were a few parts that were funny, for instance, when Christina Christensen broke the invisible fourth wall and told the audience that she hated the opera Die Fledermaus. Perhaps this show had more comedy in the past, but for the present, it is lacking.
The English operetta Die Fledermaus, German for “the bat,” opened Thursday the 17th October this year in the Marshall Performing Arts Center at UMD. With music by Johann Strauss and libretto written by Ruth and Thomas Martin, director Alice Peirce and conductor Rudy Perrault surely did this well-known European show justice.
All based around a plot of revenge, Die Fledermaus keeps the audience quite entertained with witty humor, the musical cast that is reflective of UMD’s vocal excellence, and an orchestra the Greek God Arion would be proud of.
The victim of the whole plot of revenge is Eisenstein, played by Zach Winkler, who has a superb tenor voice, comedic timing, and absolutely hilarious facial expressions. Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinde, played by Aliese Hoesel, was present the entire show and was the main voice presented in the show. With a beautiful and clear soprano voice, Hoesel was in the spotlight the entirety of the show.
There were also two more stunning soprano voices in Die Fledermaus, one was the Eisentsteins’ maid Adele, played by Catherine Brown. With the very first song of the show, Brown did not disappoint and kept the audience craving more with every note she sang and every comedic moment she had. Prince Orlovsky, played by Christina Christensen, was a subtly hilarious role played by a woman.
Both Adele and Rosalinde were double-casted in this production.
In this joint production of both UMD’s Theatre and Music departments, Die Fledermaus kept the audience laughing, intrigued from the music, and begging for more with each applause break.
Die Fledermaus is a hilarious, satirical, and somewhat self-recriminating operetta by Johann Strauss II about the revenge scheme that Falke (Robert Banks) unleashes on his friend Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler) for a prank that was played that ended with Falke waking up on a park bench in a bat costume. The show is ridiculous in its humor, and that only adds to hilarity of it. The operattta was performed last Saturday at the University of Minnesota Duluth Mainstage Theatre.
The feel of the show was one of brightness, which was reflected well in the set that contained a colorful stained glass floor design, extraordinary swooping arches, and vividly colored curtains. The baroque inspired look of the stage fit with the 1920’s era that the show was set in. The scenic designer (Curtis Phillips) put together a beautiful set that was just as interesting to look at as the show itself.
The actors in the show were also fantastic. Amanda Bush played the role of Rosalinde, the wife of Eisenstein, and she was phenomenal. When she sang it filled the stage, bright and clear, while carrying her multitude of high noted beautifully. Bush and Winkler were both great singers and played well off each other during the show to provide for some great comedic moments.
Another key character was Eisenstein’s chamber maid Adele (Kayla Mudgett) who was more than a bit sneaky, making off with one of Rosalinde’s gowns and attending a party. Mudgett was great as Adele, carrying the theatricality of the role well and staying the required level of overdramatic, yet remaining endearing. A character particularly smitten with Adele was the prison warden Frank (Luke Votava) who helps to encourage Adele in her theatricality to become an actress. Votava was extremely entertaining when playing the drunken Frank and had a wonderful charisma on stage.
Some of the show’s best comedic moments were definitely found with the scene stealers. Erin Miller who played Alfred, Rosalinde’s old flame who attempts to serenade her, was too funny in his portrayal. Miller was hilarious and his scene involving a dressing gown and more than a little too much alcohol was stellar. Another show stopping ,scene stealer was Christina Christensen as Prince Orlovsky. Christensen was pretty great at playing a male character, yet was made even better with her fabulous singing and the witty quips she was able to lash out. Strauss can be thanked for the best comments about how horrible opera is.
The director, Alice Pierce, put together a great show. The scenes were full of activity and never seemed to drag. The chorus members were well integrated into the action of the main characters, and the show was timed well so that the comedy was never lost. Pierce should be commended for the great job she did. The most noticeable thing about the show though, was the beautiful costumes. Each costume worked well with the 1920’s period of the show without seeming clichéd. The costumes were richly colored, shone from the stage, and cast gorgeous movement whenever a cast member was in motion. Patricia Dennis, the costume and makeup designer for the show, put together an absolutely stunning collection of costumes.
The operetta Die Fledermaus was wonderfully entertaining and was directed superbly. The acting was great and the singing was even better. The set and the costumes were beautifully designed and flowed to together swimmingly. The show was fantastic and paid an interesting tribute to champagne!
Introduction to Theatre Class
Die Fledermaus, which translates to English meaning “The Bat,” is a collaboration between UMD’s Music and Theater departments and premiered Thursday, October 17. The three hour operetta features an array of cast members whose vocal performances approach the definition of angelic and the production certainly did not disappoint.
Die Fledermaus was originally composed by the “Waltz King” Johann Strauss, Jr. in 19th century Vienna and aired in 1874. “The Bat,” is a farcical performance of trickery, laughter, improper romance, and revenge.
The main plot of the play revolves around a mischievous plan to get back at a friend: on a drunken evening in Vienna, one of the main characters, Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler), left the handsome tenor, Falke (Robert Banks), to pass out on a city bench in a bat costume, only to have to walk home alone the next morning. The story of “the bat” is Falke’s idea of a hilarious prank and the perfect way to seek revenge for his embarrassment.
Stunning vocal and acting performances were directed by UMD’s vocal instructor, Alice Pierce, while the full orchestra was conducted by UMD’s own Jean “Rudy” Perrault. The musical pieces in Die Fledermaus left the audience with their jaws on the floor. The timing and pitch of every song were spot on and exceedingly impressive for being done by college students.
Along with Falke and Eisenstein were many other stand-out characters such as Rosalinde, played by Amanda Bush on opening night, who was Eisenstein’s elegantly strong willed wife. Her voice and acting abilities far overshadowed all others every time she stepped foot on stage.
Adele, Eisenstein’s dainty and conniving chamber maid, was played on Thursday night by Kayla Mudgett, whose soprano voice was as elegant and feminine as her stature. Her “after hours” decisions lead her into some trouble but she turns out to play a key role in the climax of the plot.
The real comedian in the show was Rosalinde’s “secret” lover, Alfred (Erin Miller). His rather convincing drunk scene as well as his romantic obsession with Rosalinde left viewers turning red with laughter.
The set and lighting were bright and vivid and seemed to be never-ending. The exit of actors off of the front of the stage, down a ladder, during the prison scene positively added to this infinite space.
While the entire play was intended to be a comedy, there seemed to be much less laughter among the crowd than one may hope for. The comedy was almost outdated at times and during some of the vocal performances, it was difficult to hear what the singers were saying, making it hard to understand what is happening in the play. The sheer beauty of the songs were overpowering of this problem, however, and had viewers leaving the theatre humming and singing themselves!
Intro to Theatre Class
October 22, 2013
Die Fledermaus (meaning “the bat”) is a very humorous German operetta written by Johann Strauss. It was originally written in German, but for this performance it was translated into English by Ruth and Thomas Martin. Directed by Alice Pierce and conducted by Jean R. Perrault, Die Fledermaus was performed in the University of Minnesota’s Marshall Performing Arts Centers main theatre. This performance was executed in Vienna, Austria during the 1920’s, originally performed in the 1870’s.
This play is about a man, Falke (Robert Banks) trying to seek revenge on his friend, Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler) from a stunt that happened earlier and is only briefly mentioned at the beginning of the play. The plot involves Falke planning a ball at Orlovsky’s (Christina Christensen) palace inviting Eisenstein and his wife Rosalinde who acts as a Hungarian Countess. Rosalinde believes her husband, Eisenstein, is in jail and when she arrives, she realizes her husband lied to her. While under the influence of alcohol, Eisenstein flirts with the Hungarian Countess, and Rosalinde realizes her husband is a scumbag. But, in reality, he never cheats on her because she is the Countess. In the end, Rosalinde takes her lying husband back.
While Orlovsky’s part was played by the opposite sex, a woman in a male’s body, Christensen played the part very well. She did a very respectable job flirting with the females, but singing her operetta parts like a woman. This decision to have a female play a male part was kept from the original performance in Vienna. While it left the audience in a tizzy due to the fact that that was not told to the audience before, a very smart move that paid its tribute to Strauss’ original request.
The opera singing was done very well, but was overpowered by the pit orchestra. In particular, it was hard to hear what Rosalinde (Amanda Bush) was singing about at multiple times. However, due to the fact that men have deeper voices, the men, particularly Banks and Winkler, were easier to understand. At times, the audience would murmur to each other when it was hard to understand the lyrics. If the pit would have been a little quieter, this could have been avoided.
The scenery, designed by Curtis Philips, was very elaborate and over the top. But, it fit this play very well and was designed to look like it was truly from the 1920’s. It had a very rustic look, with chandeliers and drapery. There were many rounded edges which gave it the optimistic 1920’s feel. Due to the fact that there was a massive doorway, which made it seem like Eisenstein was very well-off and could afford almost anything he wanted.
As well as in the scenery, the costume design, done by Patricia Dennis, also had many rounded and soft edges throughout. Rosalinde, from her costume, was portrayed as a soft person. She didn’t have any straight rigid lines, but rather rounded, soft, loose lines with very soft colors, like light pink and light blue. Everything in this play was designed and cast very well. Everyone fit the part, but some could have been louder at times.
Alice Peirce directed a wonderful English-version production of Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss II along with Ruth and Thomas Martin, at the UMD Theater in the Marshall Performing Arts Center. The cast of Die Fledermaus was joined by a full talented pit orchestra, made up of students in the UMD music department, directed by Jean R. Perrault.
The scenery, designed by Curt Philips, was simple at the core. Even though the basic set was not complex, he did a nice job of adding enough detail and choosing color schemes that were bright, yet easy on the eyes. With the lighting by Mark Harvey, the lights helped the colors draw the audience’s attention to the stage, but did not distract them from the show.
Die Fledermaus starts with a lengthy overture that leads the audience in to a story of a revenge practical joke. Throughout the entire show the audience is trying to figure out who is or isn’t in on the joke, which the audience also learns, is quite elaborate.
Falke, played by Robert Banks, is looking to get revenge on Eisenstein, played by Zachary Winkler, for making a fool of Falke by leaving him drunk on a park bench dressed as a bat after a party. (This is where the title of the show, Die Fledermaus, translated to The Bat, comes from.) This main plot is integrated with many other characters’ stories throughout the show, but some how, in the end, everyone’s stories combine perfectly to make the joke work.
The actors on stage delivered their dialogue and challenging music accurately. The harmonies that were created were intricate, but the audience was able to clearly hear each vocal part. Amanda Bush showed off her upper register in her role as Rosalinde, Eisenstein’s wife.
Breaking away from the stereotypical opera, Die Fledermaus is a comedy. If you are the type of person who finds slightly intoxicated people very entertaining, this is a good show to watch. Not only the principle characters acting, but also the ensemble’s acting and reacting is especially entertaining. Erin Miller was particularly humorous in his role of Alfred, Rosalinde’s lover on the side. His shortsighted character was a crowd favorite.
The costumes in Die Fledermaus, designed by Patricia Dennis, gave the audience a good feel for the time period and characters’ personalities, without the costumes being what most people would think of the 1920’s or tacky. The women’s wardrobe was elegant with knee length dresses, while the men’s attire was classy with suits and tailcoats.
The actors, musicians, directors, and designers all came together to create the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s production of Die Fledermaus. They committed to their roles and kept the audience entertained, resulting in a job well done.
The UMD presentation of the Strauss Operetta Die Fledermaus was as silly and frothy as if just presented in the Vienna of 150 years ago. Overall, the singing was competent, the set design and costumes glorious and the physical comedy hilarious. The comedic antics of the male cast members made a three hour evening very enjoyable indeed.
Set during the roaring 1920s, the costume designs echoed that era of seeming unlimited wealth with upper class women, male sartorial splendor and frothy champagne. The dresses for Rosalinde, Adele, and the female members of the chorus were stunning in the use of bright, vibrant color and 1920 design that reinforced the illusion of 1920’s good times. The male performers formal suits were well tailored, fitting each actor like their own personal set of gloves. There was nothing thrown together or shoddy in the appearance of these costumes, a real accomplishment for a university production.
The beautiful set design was wondrous in creating the needed ambiance for each act. The Eisenstein’s home was bright and airy, Prince Orlovsky’s ballroom had an evening glow with an extravagant air, and the jail was dim, dark, and dreary. The use of the arches in each act, altered with draperies and lighting was very effective. Like the costumes, the sets were very professionally presented and quite stunning. Some of the smaller set pieces in Act 2 might be removed as they contributed to a cramped feeling in the ballroom. The piano and the large white cushioned stool might be repositioned to allow for more room for the performers and the columned arches recessed a bit more. At times, the cast seemed crammed into the space, bumping into items like the piano and lighting columns more than once. The waltz felt stiff, as if each couple had only a small box in which to dance, detracting from the grand, sweeping feel of the well known Strauss waltz. When Orlovsky’s dancers took the stage, there were times when a collision with chorus members seemed imminent. It was similar to waiting to see if George and Mary would fall in the swimming pool while doing the charleston in “A Wonderful Life”, very distracting. In contrast, the jail in Act 3 felt much larger and more ominous with the stark lack of items on the set making it truly feel like a large jail.
The singing was enjoyable and well done by the entire cast. Aliese Hoesel as Rosalinde showed a powerful and true operatic voice. Zachary Winkler as Eisentein was very good, if slightly winded, as he sang while moving energetically around the set. Adele in the person of Catherine Brown, was perky with a beautiful, if less powerful voice than Rosalinde. Falke (Robert Banks) was well sung and perfect as the mastermind behind the farce. Frank (Luke Botava) and Blind (David Knoblauch) were hard to hear at times from the front row and Erin Miller (Alfred) showed his true gift is comedy. Christina Christensen, in a male role traditionally performed by a woman, perfectly captured the personality of the bored, rich, Russian Prince Orlovsky. The ballet was nicely done with enough sass to keep it from being too serious and the prince’s servant was played with sly good humor by Josiah Thompson. The chorus was beautifully costumed and did a superb job providing the anonymous backdrop for the principals.
What made this production so enjoyable was the strength of the physical comedy of the male principals. Eisenstein, Alfred, Frank, Blind and Frosch were a well choreographed laugh a minute. It was amazing to watch them sing as they slid, stumbled, fell of the furniture and generally cut up all over the stage. Frosch (Brian Saice) was a true delight and came close to stealing the show.
Die Fledermaus as presented by this UMD cast, was a fun and entertaining three hours filled with beautiful music, talented young singers and actors, and lots of laughter. A wonderful way to spend an evening.
Unique Performance of Die Fledermaus
by Jennine Kotnik
Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”)is a classic German operetta that was presented by the UMD Department of Music and UMD Department of Theatre. Alice Pierce, the play’s director, offered a twist when she chose to demonstrate Die Fledermaus in the 1920s instead of the original time period of the 1880s. She also created a local theme because UMD was mentioned in Prince Orlofsky’s song. The title “operetta” seems to scare some theatre-goers, but UMD's performance was much more funny and laid-back than expected.
The set, designed by Curtis Phillips, appeared to display the 1920’s time period accurately. The intricate circular design on the floor resembled a stain glass dome. Elegance was displayed through the copper colored arches and large window openings. The most creative, yet seemingly simple setup was during Act 3, which took place in a jailhouse. The eerie echoing sounds, large open space, shadows, and the unseen “jail cells” underneath the stage created a unique dungeon feel that contrasted well with the first 2 Acts. The only issue that seemed to arise in the set was the crowding and overlapping of the actors and choir members in Acts 1 and 2, especially during the dance number.
This production of Die Fledermaus gave UMD actors and musicians to display their talents in their own unique ways. Zachary Winkler (Eisenstein), Amanda Bush (Rosalinde), Brian Saice (Frosch), and Josiah Thompson seemed to put on the most memorable performances of all the actors. For instance, Winkler and Bush did a very nice job of projecting their opera vocals, while a few of the cast members weren’t as easily heard by the audience. As far as acting went, Saice appeared to be the most convincing actor, playing the old drunken jailer Frosch. He created an interesting character by utilizing a hoarse voice and staggering body movement. Thompson displayed his character, Ivan, in a humorous and energetic manner by moving very rapidly and by using cheerful expressions. Perhaps Ivan was among the most entertaining and enjoyable of the characters. The UMD orchestra and choir members in Die Fledermaus did an nice job performing music by Johann Strauss II. More energy and movement could have been utilized from the choir members on stage to further create a laid-back atmosphere.
The 1920s costuming and makeup of this operetta, designed by Patricia Dennis, was very stunning and accurate. All of the colorful 1920s dresses worn by the choir members supported the “laid-back” aspect that Pierce was trying to display. The "full dress" tails on the suits worn by the men were significantly contrasting to today’s suits, so that maintained the 1920s feel as well.
Perhaps this play would have made more sense for the audience and for the actors if the time period wasn’t changed because there were some confusing remarks and actions that seemed to fit German society in nineteenth century rather than the 1920s.
Overall, the flaws with sound and stage space were overcome by the talented members of the UMD Theatre and Music departments as they came together and created a comical, laid-back performance of Die Fledermaus that was worth seeing.
Die Fledermaus is a opera that was placed in Germany around the 1920’s. It became popular in America but was written by Johann Strauss and is one of his most popular operettas. The University of Minnesota-Duluth’s production opened on Thursday and is a combined effort of the UMD’s Music and Theatre departments.
This three act play is divided into many different parts and lessons. The production starts off in the home of Eisenstein and Rosalinde (Zachery Winkler & Amanda Bush (on opening night)). As a man who is spending his last day of freedom he calls his good friend Falke (played by Robert Banks) to help him life his last night before his goes off to jail to the absolute fullest. What Eisenstein doesn’t know is that his friend is ready to play tricks on him; which is the basis of the show. There are many different actors in the play but another big part of the show is Adele (played by Kayla Mudgett on opening night). Adele is the maid of the couple and she plays a major part of Falke’s revenge. The second act takes place in a Prince Orlovsky’s (Christina Christensen) castle. This is a role that is given to a female actor. I think she did pretty well with the Russian accent and it wasn’t too fake which helps the audience vision the part better. I think the audience loved Frank (played by Luke Votava). He is the warden of the jail that Eisenstein was supposed to go to at the beginning of the play. He did a great job at showing the different emotions; from stone-cold warden, to drunken playboy back to less stone-cold. I do think that the drunkenness was a little over done, but very nice.
Some of the best comedic moments were found in the scenes with the stealers. Alfred (played by Erin Miller) Rosalinde’s old flame attempts to serenade her; it was too funny. Alfred was uproarious and his scene involving a dressing gown was more than comical.
There was a full orchestra in the pit (they were very good), however at some points of the play they overpowered the singers and it was hard to hear what they were saying. The orchestra was right on the entire play and did well. They were directed by Jean Perrault.
The set was designed by Curt Philips. It was done very tastefully. There was beautiful stained glass floor, and as a whole it was used very well and it fit the time and style of Die Fledermaus. The costumes were also done very well. They fit the era and made the actors come to life. I liked that there wasn’t a “flapper” style to the costumes. Made it seem more real.
UMD did a very nice job overall and the mix of the two departments really made the play come to life. The audience laughed and the music fit the mood perfectly.
Die Fledermaus (in English the title translates to “The Bat”) is an operetta written by Johann Strauss II in German and translated into English by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée. It tells the story of Falke trying to get revenge on Eisenstein for abandoning him, drunk, in a park afeter a party. This operetta was recently produced at the Marshall Performing Arts Center at UMD and performed through a collaboration of UMD’s Theatre and Music Departments. Fledermaus
This play was supposed to be humorous but the parts that were supposed to be humorous did not land as well with the audience as intended. The ballet in Act II did not advance the plot much at all but it was still entertaining to watch. Where it lacked in humor Fledermaus made up for in other aspects. Many of the performers were in the Music program at UMD so it was quite interesting to see how they would do as actors. The attention to detail given in the costume design fit the character’s personalities and the colorfulness of the operetta as a whole by displaying the more elegant side of the 1920’s while skipping he cliché of flappers.
Two of the three acts in Fledermaus were presented in bright colors, throughout the play the floor was painted like a stain glass dome. The floor would pose a challenge as the third act takes place in a dungeon but the lighting created the necessary contrast from the first two acts to the darkness that was needed to make it seem like the actors were actually in a dungeon.
The ranges and voices of all the actors were impressive and filled the space of the Marshall Performing Arts Center. Their ability to hit a multitude of high notes during Fledermaus’ three hour run time was impactful. Overall, Fledermaus ‘ details along with the changed time period flowed well and made it a worthwhile show.
Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus was just recently performed on the UMD stage. A harmless prank from the past turns to a revenge seeking prank in this farcical operetta. Originally written for the 18th century, Alice Pierce, the director, decided to set this particular production in the 1920’s. She decided to steer away from the stereotype of a “flapper” and went in the direction of a more sophisticated style.
The roles of Adele and Rosalinde were double casted due to the singing demands of these characters. Aliese Hoesel played a sassy Rosalinde, she sang effortlessly as each soaring soprano note hung in the air leaving the audience wanting more. Adele (Catherine Brown), the overdramatic chambermaid of Rosalinde, carried herself with such presence and pronunciation.
Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler) was sentenced to prison for eight days after insulting an officer, his wife Rosalinde pretends to be upset at the knowledge she’ll have eight days to do whatever she pleases. Maybe even meet up with Alfred (Erin Miller), a tenor that can make you go weak at the knees just like Rosalinde does. Eisenstein’s best friend, Falke convinces him to go out partying on his last night of freedom before prison. Little does Eisenstein know that his wife would be there wearing a mask pretending to be a Hungarian countess would enchant him so much he doesn’t even think about his wife. Events unfold that Falke had this plan all along to get Eisenstein in trouble with his wife and to ultimately make him feel humiliated just like Falke did when he was left on a bench on the street in a bat costume.
Die Fledermaus translates to “The Bat” in German. This production lived up to its literal meaning and its complex plot was beautifully played on the stage with magnificent scenery to back it up. Curt Philips, scenic designer added sconces and a Grand Piano to contribute to the elaborate yet sophisticated set. The final scene takes place on an almost bare stage lit by lighting designer Mark Harvey to represent a prison. Christopher Gumpper, sound designer contributed to this final scene by having a subtle echo to the voices to give the stage the bare feel of a prison. The lights and sound all created a masterpiece of scene.
The 59 piece orchestra enhanced the production with their flawless musical talent. This talented orchestra helped carry the show in the right direction allowing the opera singers to reach their full potential when hitting those unbelievable high notes. Jean R. Perrault was the director and conductor of this ensemble, guiding both the actors and orchestra.
Whenever there is fast paced music it is often easy to rush the words and sometimes difficult for the audience to understand. This was the case for Die Fledermaus; it was occasionally hard to hear specifically what the singers were trying to musically say. Articulation was more so the issue than the actors not knowing what they were singing. Other than the occasionally slurred words, the production was beautifully played and was worth-while to see.
Theater 1001 Sec. 1
October 22, 2013
Die Fledermaus is a dramatic comedy experience with the elements of operetta infused within. Die Fledermaus translates in English to “The Bat” and was originally done in German. Directed by Alice Pierce, Fledermaus takes the audience back to the 1920’s where a couple faces the greatest challenge of their marriage. Eisenstein and Rosalinde, played by Zachary Winkler and Amanda Bush respectively, have a love hate relationship in which they both can’t seem to satisfy their desire for lust. Their story is played out in front of the crowd in the form of song. It transforms the play from just another story into a deep emotional bond because of the musical attachment. Eisenstein’s friend Falke, played by Robert Banks, fell victim to a prank pulled by Eisenstein in which he wakes up on a park bench dressed as a bat. The story follows this chaotic group of friends as Falke attempts to get his revenge.
The performance took place in in the Marshall Performing Arts Center on the main stage. The theater has three sections of seats, one section on the left, one center, and one on the right, along with a balcony with additional seating. The stage was set with large looming archways which made the appearance of a high ceilinged mansion. There are three acts to this story, the first takes place in Eisenstein and Rosalinde’s manor, the second at a Prince’s elegant ball, and lastly in a jail cell. The stage designer Curtis Phillips did an amazing job at capturing the concepts and ideals of the roaring 20’s.
The cast’s chemistry was in sync for parts and others could have used some work. Although the performance was rough at times, it still worked as a whole. The one actor that stood out the most was Luke Votava. His role was playing Frank, the jail warden. His character was able to play hard ball when his job was needed but ultimately ended up failing. His lack of awareness on what was happening was comical and ended up become a joke. He shows up to the ball and enjoys himself along with Eisenstein. There is even a moment at the end where Frank is drunk back at the jail house and is stumbling around. Votava captures the essence of a drunken man who has experience love for the first time. As he stumbled around, the audience couldn’t help but laugh at his expense. The blend of comedy and severity was perfect which greatly increase his character’s standing.
Overall, Fledermaus was a nice change from the average play. Each cast member had an outstanding night and seemed to hit every not that was thrown their way. The sheer power of some of the actors was enough to blow away the audience. The ending was predictable but was still enjoyable to watch. Hopefully UMD decides to take on another operetta in the future and continues to push the envelope on what can be done.
Die Fledermaus, a German operetta by Johann Strauss, opened in the Marshall Performing Arts Center on Thursday. From start to finish, the show kept the audience on their toes with deceptions and questions of who is tricking who and spectacular music numbers for an overall enjoyable performance. The storyline centers on Falke, played by Robert Banks, and his intent to get revenge on his “friend” Eisenstein, played by Zachary Winkler, for embarrassing him long ago at a party. The play follows many twists and turns as each character finds a reason to trick another character for their own benefit, and all the deceptions come to a head in the final act, where Eistenstein finally learns how Falke has tricked him.
The operetta premiered in 1874, but director Alice Pierce decided to set this performance in the 1920’s, reflected by the unique costumes and overall design of the set. The designers did extensive research of the time period and the result was a beautiful set with extravagant decorations that added a pleasing aesthetic element to the show. The tall pillars and beautifully painted floor made for an extravagant, yet elegant, effect in the first two acts. In the third act, the dark lighting and echoing sound effects completely changed the setting from extravagant ballroom to uninviting jail without having to change the basic background of the set.
As a comedy, Die Fledermaus calls for a lot of high energy from its actors, and the actors delivered. The performers created extremely believable characters, each with their own little quirks that made the performance even more interesting.
Alfred, played by Erin Miller, was a dopey, crazy-in-love character who was always moving and added a lot of energy to his scenes, especially the one in which he became increasingly intoxicated (and in turn, increasingly hilarious!) Though he was somewhat hard to hear in his songs, he was loud and clear when delivering his lines.
Winkler, as Eisenstein, added to the comedic element of the show with his exaggerated facial expressions made behind other character’s backs.
Banks, as Falke, played a charming character whose clear voice was easily heard in both singing and speaking.
Amanda Bush played Rosalinde, Eisenstein’s wife, and had an extremely commanding presence on stage and her clear soprano voice provided for excellent music numbers.
The main comedic relief in the show came from Frank, the bumbling jail warden, played by Luke Votava.
Kayla Marie Mudgett played Adele, the sassy
chambermaid aspiring to be an actress. Mudgett’s overdramatic gestures and facial expressions made for a very interesting character. She was hard to hear over the orchestra at times, but when she could be heard she revealed a beautiful and clear soprano voice.
The show was three hours long, but made good use of every moment. The only part where the show seemed to slow down was the ballet in the second act. Though the dancing did nothing to move the show along and there were a few costume mishaps with Ivan’s belt, the ballet was amusing and enjoyable.
The performers, lights, design and music all came together for a stunning performance and a must-see. Each of the performers brought something different to the table, and all added to the fun, hilarity, and enjoyment of the play.
Die Fledermaus is a German operetta originally written by Johann Strauss II in 1874. While the play was set with 1800s fashion and mannerisms in mind, it was adapted to a 1920s-esque appearance for this production. It follows the antics of a man named Falke (played by Robert Banks) as he tries to get revenge on his friend Eisenstein (played by Zachary Winkler) for leaving him on a park bench dressed as a bat. The play starts off with the audience being informed Eisenstein must serve an 8-day sentence for chopping off a person's head, and goes through various settings, including a elegant party and a dank prison.
The lighting and set design in Die Die Fledermaus truly excelled. The lighting in Eisenstein's house and during Orlovsky's party created an atmosphere of warmth and luxury, utilizing bright yellow, white, and orange light to warm the hearts of the audience, and dark greens and blues in the prison to create an atmosphere of cold and damp. The three sets were well-designed, and much credit is due to the production crew. In Eisenstein and Rosalinde's house, high faux-wood frames created the illusion of height, and furniture from the era helped create a sense of immersion. At Orlovsky's party, a grand piano and a circular bench (think a marble fountain but without the water) made it seem like it really could have been the house of a rich Russian, but what really improved the set was a projection of a wall from a castle, because while a small detail, added a lot of detail to what otherwise would have been rather drab. In the prison, a wooden table was all that existed of the visible set, while Frosch (Brian Saice) went into the orchestra pit as though it were the basement of the prison, making it seem like there was more to the set than there really was.
Unfortunately, there were some downsides to UMD's production of Die Fledermaus. Most noticeably (and regrettably) was Blind's song with Rosalinde (played by Aliese Hoesel) and Eisenstein. Blind (David Knoblauch) was very quiet (possibly due to his false German accent) which was a real shame because from what little I did hear, his contributions to the trio would have been quite amusing. Another glaring negative was the some parts of the played seemed to exist solely to extend the length of the play, such as the dancing (Megan Brass, Maeggie Licht, Heather Hubert, and Josiah Thompson) during Olovsky's ball, or the music being played before the play even started. As a whole, Die Fledermaus did not need to be three hours long, and after an hour and a half one could easily imagine someone wishing they had sat in the back so they could sleep.
Overall, Die Fledermaus was not the most awful play, but neither was it a shining beacon in the dark mist of musical theatre. One should not expect world-class acting and set design from college undergrads, but the UMD students did quite well with what they had.
German for “the bat”, Die Fledermaus is the story of a tortuously heuristic joke effectuated as vengeance towards a previous gag from years before. The obvious target of the joke is Eisenstein, played by Zachary Winkler, whose exceptional voice and timely witticism provided for a good portion of comic relief throughout the performance. His wife Rosalinde, however, commanded practically every one of her scenes with her graceful build and deportment, but most of all with the untempered power of her singing voice. Rosalinde’s character was played by Amanda Bush. The couple’s maid Adele, played by Kayla Mudgett, represents a crucial figure in the storyline, with Mudgett proving to be a surprisingly gifted comedienne with an equally exceptional singing voice. The operetta was double casted, meaning Adele and Rosalinde are played by different performers during interspersed performances. Other noteworthy voices include those of Christina Christensen, who played the role of Prince Orlovsky, as well as the comedic leader of the night Luke Votava, who played Frank. In addition, the costume and scenic designers did a wonderful job of supporting the overall style of the production, which had a very roaring 20’s feel with the costumes as well as with the stage design throughout the 3 acts, all of which were thoroughly unique to one another.
If one was fortunate enough to have the “in’s”, Johann Strauss II’s charming take on the risible operetta first previewed last Tuesday night at the Marshall Performing Arts Center. The production combines UMD’s Theater and Music Departments, skillfully incorporating the school’s opera orchestra. Last produced around a half-century ago, some might argue this most recent production to be not as humorous, but of course that all depends on personal preference and whether or not one enjoys music with his/her acting. Although the entire troupe can be said to have done their best as far as the comical intention of the operetta, it was notable that the overall performance didn’t produce any particular bouts of violent laughter.
That being said, the quality of the musical presentation could be argued to have stolen the spotlight from the humour itself. The orchestral performance went unblemished all the way through, along with the authoritative and zestful deliverance of vocals, particularly by Bush who played the role of Rosalinde on Tuesday night. This could be attributed to Alice Pierce, UMD voice coach, who directed the English translation (originally written by Thomas and Ruth Martin) of the german libretto, as well as the UMD director of orchestras/associate professor Jean R. Perrault, who masterfully conducted the opera orchestra. At about 2 hours and 45 minutes long, the length of the show can seem quite daunting, especially if it’s one’s first time at the opera. Rest assured, however, that once the show is over, one will not regret having spent the 6 measly dollars it took to get in.
October 23, 2013
The Marshall Performing Arts Center presents Die Fledermaus on October seventeenth through the twentieth. I attended the Friday night showing.
A German opereta performed for the stage in an English rendition proved to possess entertaining hijinks with a cast very capable of keeping a light hearted tone throughout the show.
A detail that requires acknowledgment would be the excellent execution of the set design. The colorful layout very appropriately reflected the playful and light hearted tone present within the performance.
Die Fledermaus itself means "the bat", which was a prank that the husband had played on his friend years ago and now in turn is getting tricked back. With that being the theme, there is an obvious play in the way each person presents themselves.
The characters have a hard enough job singing to their highest degree. Along with using their beautiful voices they had to act with the rest of their bodies. The way each interacted with certain characters seemed fitting, like when Rosalinde was excited about the man singing to her and how different she reacted to her husband. She did a good job keeping reactions accurate.
The chorus as party cast was a swell idea but they could have used the stage more. There was a lot of room and a lot of scene to dance and socialize like one does at a party, yet they sort of stayed in once place other than running off stage. It would not have taken away from the people singing main stage because opera singing is quite captivating.
Rosalinde specifically had an overpowering voice which made the harmonizing a bit difficult. The way they physically interacted though made up for it.
Einstein had a certain way about his face. He was very facially expressive to everything going on around him. It induced laughter and feeling.
It wasn't until the second act where it felt like the audience was a part of the performance. Sitting on the right wing left one feeling a tad disconnected until they started actually stopping on said side. Although during the ballet scene the use of space was about right. Since it is a performance within in a performance the way they used the center space seemed very appropriate.
The ballet was a surprise to me. I had heard there was play within a play and I guess I had expected something more acting but it was a nice surprise. A little choreography can go a long way.
It was obvious that the female dancers have worked together often. They were in synch with each other and moved gracefully like feathers.
When the waiter started doing lifts it almost seemed random. It was a neat way to bring him into something other than just being the waiter but maybe if there was a way to ease him into it, it could have been more organic.
The show being three hours did seem to leave some of the younger audience a little antsy. I'm not sure if there is a way to cut parts of the show without missing a huge part of the plot. For a school production it could have resinated a bit better but props to the actors and actresses for pulling through.
Introduction to Theater Arts-Mark Harvey
October 23, 2013
Die Fledermaus (translated meaning “The Bat”) is a humorous German operetta originally written by Johann Strauss and later translated into English by Thomas and Ruth Martin. The play opened October 17th at the UMD Marshall Performing Arts Center and is a joint production of both the UMD Musical Department and Theater Department.
The performance was staged in the 1920 around Vienna and focuses around a plot of revenge between Falke (played by Robert Banks) and Eisenstein (played by Zachary Winkler). The actors did a great job in creating believable characters. Winkler was especially impressive in his role of Eisenstein, who is often times the butt of the joke.
The dialog and music was delivered exceptionally well. However, there were multiple times where the pit orchestra did overpower the singing. One of the most impressive singers throughout the show was Amanda Bush, who played the role of Rosalinde, who is Eisenstein’s wife. Both Winkler and Bush did a very good job of singing, and were easily heard by the audience throughout the production. While the overall acting was good, it could be argued that the musical aspect of the production stole the show from the humorous aspect of the production.
The first act of the play seemed to drag on a bit, and it was apparent that the audience was not connected to the performance. Come second act, the audience was much more involved due to the use of space by the performers. For the most part, however, director Alice Pierce seemed to keep the play moving at a reasonable pace.
The lighting, costume design and scenic design seemed to be the most impressive things about this performance. The lighting in the first two acts was incredible. It was bright, energetic and influential to the mood of the play. The lighting in the first two acts really seemed to add to the energetic and humorous mood of the play. The transition in the lighting from the second to third act was also just as incredible. The lighting went in a completely different direction as the previous acts and established a darker, more mysterious mood to the act. The costume design was very believable to the intended time period of the play and was exquisitely designed for each character. The scenic design could be described in one word: grand. While simple at the core, the design created a wonderfully colorful and vibrant mood. It also added to the energetic and humorous mood when intended to do such.
Overall, the play had its flaws but it seemed to make up for them in the end. The music, acting, and design really ended up coming together just well enough to make this three-hour play not be a miserable waste of time. That being said, the script was clearly outdated and the length of the play was challenging for a younger audience, which the play had.
Die Fledermaus is a comedic German operetta written by Johann Strauss II. The play is set in the 1920’s in an area around Vienna. UMD theater, in collaboration with the UMD music department, conducted their interpretation of the famous work last Friday.
The play centers on an elaborate practical joke. The joke is a form of revenge, plotted by Dr. Falke (Robert Banks), on Gabriel von Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler). Eisenstein had previously humiliated Dr. Falke, and in order to get back at him Dr. Falke attempts to show Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinda (Amanda Bush) Eisenstein’s infidelity.
The majority of the operetta seemed quite boring. The story was far removed from present day. The production had few current advents, it showcased the problems of the wealthy, and it didn’t really seem to connect with the audience. There were spurts of laughter here and there, but for the majority of the play the crowd was silent. The only character that bought about an uproar of laughter was Frosch (Brian Saice). Saice really did an extraordinary job. Saice appeared to connect with his character. His manner of speech, the way he walked, and his gestures really made his character believable. Many of the actors and actresses appeared far less convincing.
One of the major problems with the operetta was the acoustics. The majority of act two, where much of the singing was done, was difficult to comprehend. The characters could be heard, but rarely understood. Winkler, Bush, and Kayla Marie Mudgett, the actress that played adele, could be considered phenomenal singers. Bush and Mudgett were able to consistently and accurately hit very high notes while maintaining character. Winkler’s voice was the only one that really carried, and because of such he was the only actor that could be understood the entire performance.
The redeeming quality of this play was the lighting and set design. Even with a small collegiate budget, the set looked phenomenal. The design really made the performance appear to be in the 1920’s. Act two and three seemed very well put together. Act two was set in prince Orlovsky’s (Christina Christensen) palace. Act two shone with gold and appeared to give off a very courtly feel. Act three didn’t seem to be the same set at all. The lighting work done by Mark Harvey was splendid. The set went from being courtly gold to dreary jail house dark. The lighting gave the feel of an ancient dungeon. Using tricks of light Harvey was able to display bars in the background where no bars were incorporated into the set.
Even with the wonderful set design, the few shining actors, and Harveys ability to change the environment, the play remained dreadfully boring. It was hard to understand and even harder to connect with. The majority of the actors didn’t seem to understand their roles. This is not a play to recommend to friends, or to spend money on. During intermission people left the theater never to be seen again. The operetta really needs to be overhauled by Alice Pierce, the director, before it sees the light of day at UMD again.
The show "Die Fledermaus" was a very unique Operah which incorporated comedy and drama into one. From the beginning of the show the audience seemed to be roaring with laughter after the announcer laughed in his deep mysterious way.
The beginning of the oprah appeared to be very calming and enjoyable for the audience. The sound of music was playing the first five minutes of the show, which by examining the audience, it was a nice idea. While looking around the auditorium a lot of the audience membered seemed very calm and realxed by the music. After the music had played, the show had started with the chambermaid. Even from the first act in the show the audience seemed to be once again, laughing , but this time it was at the maid who had an "aunt.. not grandmother" who was sick with the "measly measles". The chambermaids was never too convincing for Rosalinda until finally she gave in and let her have the evening off. Not only was the chamber maid comical in the beginning, The woman of the house Rosalinde, was a hoot also. She was was the wife of Gabriel. Rosalinde did not need to speak to make the audience laughI, her body language and how she presented herself was what made her comical. Whenever Rosalinde would strike a dramatic pose near the window before her lover Alfred would approach , the audience would laugh at the way she had positioned herself.
There was never a time in the show where it was boring and the play was worth coming to. It was unique and something that all of those who have never seen an Oprah should attend the show "Die Fledermaus".
The conflict in the play was very interesting. The main conflict that occurred with Falk trying to get back at Gabriel for embarrassing him and making a fool out of himself due to the fact that he feel asleep on a bench outside while he was drunk in his bat costume. The next morning he woke up and he was still in his costume with people all around. Falk wants Gabriel to get a taste of his own medicine. This is interesting because this actually does happen in our every day society. People try to get back at people all the time and it also happens among countries. The show Die Fledermaus had a story line that was realistic and it was a conflict that has or does happen to people every day. When real life is put into a play, it makes it that much better because it helps the audience understand what is going on. Falk was embarrass and upset with what Gabriel did to him, there is no doubt that not one audience member has been embarrassed and wanted to get back at whoever made them feel that terrible way. The audience will only really enjoy the show if they can understand what is occurring and if they can reflect upon it. The show was relistic, enjoyable, dramatic and comical. It made a good theatre to watch for a thursday evening.
Die Fledermaus is not the operetta you expect it to be, and the UMD Theatre program’s run of this famed operetta was no exception. Originally translated from German to English, this operetta is meant to be witty, playful, and something for everyone to enjoy.
This wasn’t exactly the same case for this run. The designs were absolutely incredible, and it felt like this was really taking place during the 1920s: smooth and curved building structure, elegant tuxedos and delicately flowing gowns adorned each and every actor and actress, lighting done extremely well for each and every act, and floors seemingly made of stained glass. However, everything seemed out of place. For starters, the UMD Department of Theatre made the switch to place the setting in the 1920s because of the farce-like feel to the play, but the transition didn’t transfer over so smoothly in the plot. This was highlighted with the presence of the Russian Prince Orlofsky, and while Orlofsky was done to mock a member of the Royal family, they never actually existed during the 1920s since the Russian Royal family was completely wiped out in 1917. Anyone who paid even remote attention in a world history class would have noticed this shortcoming, and it gave the operetta an air of awkwardness rather than a feeling of giddiness.
Another not-so-smooth moment with the setting was the music itself. Johann Strauss did not write for the 1920s music scene, and the music felt highly out of place for the time period chosen by the UMD Department of Theatre. The orchestra played beautifully with each and every note, but the setting did not fit the music. Keeping with the 1860-70s time period would have worked out much better than setting the play in the 1920s.
The translation from German to English brought up many errors and did not help their situation. Die Fledermaus is a farce, meaning it has a lighter air to the acting, a foolishness that isn’t meant to be taken seriously. Sadly many of the parts of the operetta that were funny in the German version did not transfer over easily, and it wasn’t as lighthearted as it could have been.
The operatic-style singing did not help the situation whatsoever. With the wrong time period, ill-placed Russian Princes, and music behind its time, the singing just added to the overall confusion. Some of the actors onstage could not be heard clearly, as in they were not singing loud enough over the orchestra for the audience to hear them. Even if the audience did manage to hear the voices over the orchestra, understanding the actors was another thing entirely. Flying over the consonants to hit the vowels with an operatic vibrato made it highly difficult to understand what the actors were singing about, moreso in the case of the soprano voices. The echo effects in Act 3 were superb and fit the scene beautifully, but otherwise everything just felt off.
It was also highly noticeable that the actors were not actually actors. Many of them were pure vocalists, and it highly showed onstage. While the farce-like air to the play meant that some of the characters’ personalities could be overlooked a bit, the fact that the chorus members looked and felt out of place was highly noticeable to everyone in the audience. The makeup and some of the acting was likened to a low-grade high school production, and any average person would expect more out of a college-level operetta.
With the awkwardness of historical placement, off-kilter translation, and sub-par acting, the operetta couldn’t help but seem to drag on, especially in moments where it lingered far too long. Each act felt like it was at least 10 minutes longer than it should have been. At the start, the audience was forced to listen to at least a 5-minute interlude performed by the orchestra on an empty stage. In a normal opera, this 5-minute interlude is the time for a last call for seating, when the audience filters into their seats and waits for the show to begin. Die Fledermaus may have been a college-level operetta, but that general rule of thumb should have been observed and kept. The dancing scene in Act 2 did not help that fact. While the dancing was graceful and well-done, it was better than the entirety of Act Two, and that should never ever be the case for an operetta.
While some standouts were apparent throughout the performance, the operetta overall wasn’t nearly as successful as it could have been. Even with a lower budget than a traditional opera house, the UMD Department of Theatre could have done a little better with what they had and what they could do. The overall run and performances of Die Fledermaus were not bad, but they could have been much, much better, especially by collegiate standards.
Opera has long since been considered an antiquated form of performance art, which has largely fallen out of the mainstream of public exposure. However, in Duluth, there is still the occasional opportunity to take in an opera thanks to some local theatre companies. This includes UMD theatre, who last weekend presented Die Fleidermaus, a comedic operetta originally performed in German and translated into English for this production.
Die Fleidermaus opens with a stunning overture performed by the UMD orchestra, composed of 50 performers beneath the Marshall stage.The acoustics of the space carried the music very well in spite of the orchestra being sequestered in the pit and underneath the stage itself, while still allowing the actors to be heard over the music.
During this overture the lights come up to reveal an intricate and ornate set of a 1920’s art-nouveau style living room. The details in the carvings of the panels and pillars adds a nice touch to the overall look of the set, as does the carefully-painted stage floor, made to resemble a stained glass window that is iconic in the architecture of the era. This set transforms beautifully to a lavish ballroom in Act II, with some masterful changes in lighting to differentiate between the two settings and times of day. In Act III most of the artistic set pieces are pulled out to give the illusion of a bare and dank prison, and makes this transition rather well considering the vast difference from the two previous settings. The illusion is completed with a nice touch from the sound department, which added a slight echo to the actor’s lines without obstructing them from being understood.
The lighting and set make for a very visually appealing experience, and the element of live music from a full orchestra is unique and enjoyable, and these are truly the two highlights of the show. Aliese Hoesel, who played Rosalinde, and Catherine Brown, who played Adele, are both extremely talented operatic singers who sang beautifully throughout the show and played off of each other very well. However, the parodic over-acting, perhaps a stylistic choice to poke fun at opera as a genre, bordered on the ridiculous. On the other extreme, Zachary Winkler, who played Eisenstein, was unremarkable as a singer but otherwise a delightful actor, keeping the audience laughing with his lively facial expressions and clever improvisations.
The chorus, decorated to the nines in a score of visually astounding costumes, unfortunately functioned more as set-dressing for the majority of the party scenes, and at times it was difficult to discern if the actors were very bored on stage, or incredibly good at acting like they were bored on stage. And the ballet sequence, while amusing, did not seem to adequately showcase the true potential and talent of their dancers, who were clearly capable of much more than was offered in the simple choreography.
The whole production goes to great lengths to make the opera appeal to a modern audience; setting it in the 1920’s, going above and beyond with the acting especially in any scenes involving alcohol, and abandoning some of the more classical elements of the ballet in favor of something an audience could get a good laugh out of without becoming bored. And overall, in this respect, Die Fleidermaus seems to succeed. Audience members of all ages laughed raucously throughout the show from start to finish, and were quick on their feet to give the show a standing ovation. UMD theatre has brought this style of theatre into the public light once more, and done so rather well.
The German, three act, comedic operetta Die Fledermaus, opened Thursday, in the Marshall Performing Arts Center. The three hour long performance, proved its strengths as well as its weaknesses.
The plot was felt by many to be a little overdone. The play focused mainly on an elaborate “practical” joke used as a revenge tactic overshadowed by adultery. Many found this to be quite harsh, and not all that comical. The performance was simply way too long. Some parts, for example, the ballerina scene, were quite overdone and didn’t contribute anything to the plot advancing.
The performers, while possessing great voices for opera, appeared to try too hard in their acting throughout much of the show. The comedy always seemed to rely on cheap humor rather than great punchlines. The overindulgence of drunkenness and the random stumbling that accompanies, was funny at first, but over time became extremely old. One of the performers, Luke Votava (the jail warden), had to mainly emphasize his funny foreign accent in order to achieve laughs. Many of the other comedic references were sexually oriented which also showed the need to try to force out chuckles. The audience found Brian Saice’s performance of the key keeper, Frosch, to be the most comical. Saice’s continual sexual references at other actresses really got the audience riled up. While this was indeed funny it showed that the play had to resort to aspects of comedy that are sure to get a college audience laughing. The overuse of college humor like alcohol and sex revealed the desperation to find humor.
The 59 piece orchestra had excellent sound but often drowned out the performers’. Women in particular, especially Rosalinda, were at times quite hard to hear. This maybe is due to the audiences untrained ear for opera, however, the performers need to realize that the majority of the audience has probably never even attended an opera let alone knows how to decipher it. Many times the lyrics slurred right into each other.
Curt Phillips’ set design added an excellent piece to the performance. The elegant pillars, grand staircase, and vividly colored curtains all conveyed an upper class environment of the roaring twenties. The high ceilinged mansion was simply a pleasure to gaze upon at anytime throughout the play.
The lighting is also staged extremely well. The lights presented a bright party scene during much of the play but could also depict a gloomy depressing ambiance in the prison setting.
The actors, although many overdone, did a quite good job in trying to keep the audience engaged. The opera was very well done with everyone being in tune. Amanda Bush plays the main character Rosalinda who appears in practically every scene and shows off her amazing soprano voice. Zachary Winkler, put the most into the performance, sweating by the end of the exhausting play. His tenor voice and mannerisms made him a crowd favorite. Christina Christensen, who plays Prince Orlovsky, sent many scrambling for their program to see what the actress really looks like without her hair cut short.
Die Fledermaus’ while being a well thought out, talent filled performance, was severely lacking in that for a comedy, much of the audience thought it really wasn’t that funny. The comedy relied way too much on easy humor relating to drunkenness or sexual references. Some of the scenes had no point in being there, and by the end the three hour performance had a large majority ready for bed.
Alice Pierce directed a wonderful production of the classic opera Die Fledermaus at the UMD theatre on a pleasant October 17. It was a take on the classic play but several artistic choices made to make the production feel like a unique performance. The most apparent distinction was the change in time period from the late 1800’s to the 1920’s which was most noticeable in the masterfully crafted costumes designed by Patricia Dennis.
Die Fledermaus was a comedic opera that demonstrated that lies and deceit will eventually catch up to someone and they might be punished for their past transgressions. The two main characters of the story were a married couple named Rosalinde and Eisenstein played by Amanda Bush and Zachary Winkler who had a history of an unstable marriage that leads to a friend coming back for revenge. Bush and Winkler did an expectation shattering job of bringing their characters to life in a beautiful and perspective changing way.
A previously very close friend of Eisenstein named Falke played by Robert Banks, returns to Eisenstein’s home to extract revenge from being humiliated years ago. Banks played a very gentleman like character with a slight glint in his eye that said I am only being nice right now so that I can humiliate you later which was exactly what the character Falke needed to be.
One of the characters that stole the show was prince Orlovsky played by Christina Christensen due to her convincing appearance as a boredom is the enemy and sexual type of character. The number one concern of the prince was to be partaking in or viewing something funny or interesting. Playing a man while not being one must be a considerable challenge but Christensen was convincing, entertaining and hilarious to watch on stage. She asserted her authority as the richest person in the room and also hit on almost every person at the dance male or female which was quite hysterical. The only constructive criticism someone might give her might be to work on her Russian accent.
Frank, the head of the prison played by Luke Votava was a more significant character than it first appeared. At first he was simply the man taking Eisenstein to prison in a very friendly and sophisticated way that a criminal now days could only dream of but in acts two and three became a much more fleshed out character. At the party he was shown to be not as observant and responsible as a prison head is expected to be due to his drinking and ignorance of Eisenstein’s true whereabouts. Votava made Frank appear to be the most sophisticated gentleman of the entire cast.
All of these main actors worked together to create a more than satisfying production of Die Fledermaus by creating distinct and wonderfully fleshed out characters in a world where they fit in due to the amazing way they fed off of each other’s energy. After taking in the play it was obvious that there was a rare chemistry between the performers that is very hard to find which just made the play all the more enjoyable.
23 Oct 2013, Intro to Theatre
“Die Fledermaus” (English translation “The Bat”) is an operetta written by Johann Strauss, produced on the 5th of April 1874, for the Theatre an der Wien, Vienna. Original written in German and later translated in to English on the 18th of December 1876, for the Alhambra Theatre in London. Ruth and Thomas Martin provided the English translation.
The University of Minnesota Duluth produced an updated version of this classic satirical piece. Classically set “at the moment” in the late 1800’s. The producers of the UMD version set this period piece in what appears “based on the clothing styles worn by the cast” to be the early 1920’s. The exquisite execution of the stylized costuming is a testament to the designers’ formal research, material knowledge and high skill level. “Die Fledermaus” follows a small but energetic group of people through three acts that guide the audience along a twisted path of betrayal and revenge, set in motion by the antagonistic scheming of the brunt of a long-dead practical-joke.
The set was simple but well thought out. The beautifully arched columns and painted floor worked to the advantage of the production and for every act. It managed to create a sense of both time and place without being over detailed and distracting. The lighting was equally as good as the set design. The lighting was both functional and thought provoking, setting the appropriate mood for each act. The orchestra was exceptional, following the story to a T.
The blocking was a bit choppy at times, but functioned well enough. Both dancing scenes were humorous but unremarkable. The makeup on just about every character seemed over done and looked horrible in the stage light. This was most apparent on Falke, who resembled something like a raccoon in tails. The acting skill of the entire cast was bad at best and down right terrible throughout most of the production. The lead character of Rosalinda “Played by Aliese Hoesel” had momentary lapses of decent acting skill. Brian Saice “who played the jailer Frosch” was the obvious winner for best actor, his innate knack for script interpretation was obviously present and if one was to guess he was the ONLY actor on stage that night. On the other hand, the vocal performance from every cast member was highly noteworthy. The two leading ladies “Hoesel and Brown” were exceptionally talented. Ms. Hoesel contains a vocal talent that has not been seen for sometime. Her tone nears perfection. Which at times was nonetheless hindering during duets with fellow cast members not quite at her level. It, at times, seemed to become a shouting match that was won each and every time by Ms. Hoesel.
Even though the costuming was exceptional, the era chosen to portray the operetta did not fit in one bit with the music, the politics nor the story being told. This is one production best left in its place. Much of the story, many of the jokes and the entire subplot and subtle nuances were lost as they spoke directly to what was happening socially, economically and politically in central Europe at the time the play was originally written.
Die Fledermaus is a German opera that is a comedy and drama, written by Johann Strauss, which was held in the Marshall Performing Arts Center this past weekend. This play was divided into three acts and each act had their own story that contributed to the main purpose behind the play.
The beginning of act one opens in the scene of Eisenstein and Rosalinde’s and home. Eisenstein is cherishing the time he has left before he turns himself in jail and his friend Falke wants to help him celebrate his last night by going to a ball, but it’s not exactly what it seems to be. Eisenstein is unaware of what his friend’s intension is and will be revealed after the party. What Eisenstein does not know, is that his maid and also his wife will be there incognito to spy and see another side of him. The second act of the play shows everyone at the ball with the Prince. Everyone is socializing with one another and is also being entertained by the singing and dancing that takes play in the castle. The last act is held in a jail house where everyone true identity is revealed. Throughout the play, many people had different situations they were in whether it was telling a small lie or revealing them as who they truly are. At the end of the play, although things were screwed up, everyone lived happily ever after.
This wasn’t just a typical opera play as many people would think that it be. It was opera that had comedy and a twisted plot behind it. While many operas would have the main plot hidden, this opera story was very bold and it also seems it is something that many people can relate to or understand what’s happening. It was pretty easy to follow along and kept my attention.
One thing I did dislike about the play was that there were times were you could not hear the actors/actresses at certain times for example, when Eisenstein, Rosalinde, and the maid were singing in the first act. I have got a little thrown off by the parts that were being sung and who were actually supposed to be singing. Also, while they were at the ball, many of the actors/actresses that were guess would start to get out of character and I think that that is something important because even if there is a part of scene where a person doesn’t have a big role and they are a little off to the side, you are still on stage in front of many people where they will catch the smallest thing that a person would do.
Overall, this was wonderful play. I enjoyed the comedy and entertainment from it and will definitely give this play a high rating. Costumes were the most impressive and also the props and designs on the stage. This was one of the first Operas I ever been to and hope to attend future Operas that would have this style and concept.
Die Fledermaus, a three act operetta, was composed by Johann Strauss II. In the operetta, as in all operettas, music is the key and the heart. The second key to operettas is to sing in the right key. An operetta is a light type of opera, where the subject matters tend to be less serious and easier to take in. As seen from Die Fledermaus, it fits right in with the description.
Die Fledermaus, when shown at the University of Minnesota Duluth, was directed by Alice Pierce and, equally as important in an operetta, the musical score was conducted by Jean R. Perrault. Understandably, the music in the operetta consumed most if not all the time. Now, this experience came from watching the operetta before opening night, so the problems discussed may have been worked out later. The acting and the dancing all seemed to just either lead up to the music and singing, or just be there simply to accompany the music to illustrate it in movement. Die Fledermaus seems to be very flamboyant and over the top. This show is for people with either an interest in music, singing, acting, or any combination of the three.
Now, singing is very important to accompany the music and keep the story progressing. In this showing of Die Fledermaus, the singing started to get a little hard to understand. In the beginning, when Eisenstein is talking to his lawyer Dr. Blind (played by David Knoblauch), it was very hard to understand or hear anything that Blind was saying or singing. This may have been something to do with the accent he was trying to imitate. It seemed like he was focusing on his accent more than giving his voice the power that it needed to carry to the audience. Also, with mostly all of the singers, the singing didn’t match up completely with the music. In most musicals, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But, when the show focuses mainly on the music, one would expect it to line up almost perfectly. Another part about singing that was very noticeable was something that couldn’t really be changed; the male singing never really came to a climax. Almost all of the male parts kept building to a point that they never actually reached.
Now for the singers that really stood out. Brian Saice played an excellent Frosch; he made many laugh with his off-putting voice and disturbing appearance. Falke played by Robert Banks made an excellent majestic and sinister friend. Hands down though, Erin Miller was one of the favorites. His portrayal of Alfred, a bumbling lovebird, made the whole 3 hour long operetta easier to take in. He made the perfect comedic relief from the story line.
Overall, it’s very hard to sit through a 3 hour operetta, and this was not an exception. Many points just seemed to drag on and on and on. For example, the dancing scene with the ballerinas seemed to go on forever and ever. This show was alright overall though, but one would have to have an interest in operas already.
Even for some people who do not follow operettas or play writes in general Die Fledermaus (German for “the bat”) was a performance that was simply delightful to indulge. The audience was thoroughly entertained from start to finish, which if one can imagine, is a feat to be accomplished after 3 hours of entertainment. Whoever you are, no matter you theatrical background, one will enjoy the atmosphere this operetta brings to the table. Though placed in the Marshall Performance Arts Center in UMD, Die Fledermaus made great use of the utilities given to them. Not only does this apply to the actors and director, but also to choreographers and lighting crews.
The operetta that takes place during the 1920’s era includes 3 with constant entertainment and deep meaning.
It was Thursday October 17th and UMD’s Marshall Performing Arts Center began to fill for their opening night of the German operetta Die Fledermaus. Die Fledermaus which in English translates to “The Bat” is a comedic operetta composed by John Strauss II. This UMD production used the English libretto translation by Ruth & Thomas Martin. UMD’s Theatre and Music Departments collaborated to make this performance all the more memorable.
This three act operetta was not what I was expecting. The thought of an opera usually makes my stomach turn, but UMD’s rendition was way more pleasant than expected. The comedic relief this production gave made listening to the actual singing enjoyable and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
The actors did a great job at portraying their characters. Some of the performances that stood out the most to me were Zachary Winkler who stared as Gabriel Einstein, he had an excellent voice. Luke Votava who played Frank was very funny and kept me entertained the entire time he was on stage. Christina Christensen was another great vocalist, she did an outstanding job being the Russian Prince Orlovsky. Her accent was on, and she added much of the humor. The whole cast really did a great job. I wish I would’ve gone to see part of a different night because seeing anyone other than Amanda Bush play Rosalinde
or Kayla Mudgett as Adele
would be weird as they did such a good job with their parts.
Curt Phillips did a wonderful job with the set design. The arches looked so real with their brass color and I really loved what he did with the floor. Being able to bring the stain glass feel into the play by painting the floor was very unique and creative. Even though he wasn’t able to have real stain glass he still managed to get the idea across to the audience.
The director Alice Pierce did a great job with this production. It had a great blend of comedy and drama as well as the perfect amount of opera. I think it was a great choice setting it in the 1920's instead of when it was originally done. I think the style of this time as well as the pace of the music kept the audience engaged more than it would've if they had left it in the 1870's.
Three hours was a bit much but the combination of elegant voices from the music department and the believability in the acting from the theater department made it well worth it. I would definitely recommend seeing this.
The operetta Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”) was witty, comical, and by-far intriguing. Originally written by Johann Strauss Jr. and performed in 1874 in Vienna, this show involves the character Falke (Robert Banks), who was once called “The Bat” (hence the name of the show), tries to get revenge on his friend Eisenstein (Zachary Winkler) for making him look like a fool years ago. Falke does so by making Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinde (Amanda Bush) believe he is cheating on her and she becomes furious (although she is also cheating on him), and attends a party, hosted by a Russian prince named Orlovsky (Christina Christensen), in disguise and catches Eisenstein flirting with some dancers. Meanwhile, the guy Rosalinde has been having an affair with named Alfred (Erin Miller) was mistaken for Eisenstein by the jail warden and taken into custody. It all ends with revenge attained and love restored, as well as a magnificent finale number.
The amazing songs could not have been as greatly performed as they were if it wasn’t for the accompaniment of the orchestra pit, directed and conducted by Jean R. Perrault. The songs were beautiful and melodic but, more importantly, were spot on with the singing. Although the overture seemed a bit too long, it was pleasant, and was a great intro to the start of the show. Also, a standing ovation should given to the director Alice Pierce who did a wonderful job putting together Johann Strauss’s work. Every scene kept the audience on their toes, was filled with humor, and never seemed to drag on.
One particular scene that stood out was Orlovsky’s party, particularly with the blocking choices. Having a chorus that doesn’t always sing when on stage, but hangs around on/upstage (almost like extras in the background), can be really hard to block, but Pierce’s placement choices of the separate groups within the chorus looked completely natural. Another scene that requires praise is the first scene of Act 3, when we meet Frosch (Brian Saice).This scene was particularly interesting because of not only Saice’s hilariousness, but also the lighting design choices made. The stage had to look dark and gloomy, creating a jail-like atmosphere, but also bright enough so the audience can see the facial expressions made, which was well accomplished. Saice would not have been as funny as he was without his outlandish expressions, so it would’ve been very disappointing to not be able to see him during his fantastic monologue.
The costumes, done by Patricia Dennis, had a quirky 1920s twist that worked very well with the theme and spirit of the production. Contrary to the flapper stereotype, Dennis took the design towards a more high-class Jazz Age look. The dresses and tuxes were stunning and fit every character's personality. At Orlovsky’s party, Rosalinde’s maid Adele (Kayla Mudgett) shows up wearing one of her mistress’s dresses, and although Rosalinde wasn’t the one wearing the dress, you could still tell that dress would’ve originally belonged to her, and not Adele.
Some other actors that deserve recognition are of course Amanda Bush, Zachary Winkler, Erin Miller, Robert Banks, Kayla Mudgett, and Luke Votava. Every single one of them sang exceptionally well, and were spot on with their “opera acting.” Also Christina Christensen did an amazing job playing an opposite sex-role, especially considering the difficulty of having to sing as a male (and in a Russian accent!).
Die Fledermaus is certainly worth the money and time, because it was exceptionally directed, conducted, and performed. It is definitely worth seeing, especially if an audience member is interested in seeing a type of production that is rarely performed in Duluth.
This page contains a single entry by Mark Harvey published on October 18, 2013 9:41 AM.
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