Monday, October 27, 2014

We bloggers have a motto: Chacun à son goût

On Sunday, October 26, I had the pleasure of seeing Syracuse Opera's production of Die Fledermaus, the opening production of their 40th season. Die Fledermaus has long been one of my favorite shows, and I think Syracuse did a lovely job with it. The story centers around an elaborate practical joke by Dr. Falke at the expense of his friend Eisenstein, in retribution for Eisenstein's earlier joke on Falke. There are many concealed identities, a lot of champagne, and an annoying tenor. If I tried to explain more, it would just be confusing.

Michael Mayes
The excellent cast was the strongest component of this production, and I haven't a single complaint about any of the singing. Baritone Michael Mayes, whom I saw and loved in Madison Opera's Dead Man Walking last spring, was outstanding as Eisenstein, a role that couldn't be more different from Joseph De Rocher. His singing was strong and polished, and he seemed to relish every opportunity to be funny. His high voice made me wish I'd seen his Rigoletto last season, and any other Verdi baritone roles he has on offer. Cindy Sadler was an impressive Orlofsky, deftly handling the vocal challenges and also enjoying the comedy. Usually Orlofsky is sung by a lyric mezzo, but Ms. Sadler lists quite a few dramatic mezzo roles in her bio, so she deserves kudos for negotiating the high tessitura of the role. I hope to see and hear more of her. Katrina Thurman was a feisty Adele, and Jennifer Goode Cooper was a lovely Rosalinde. Neal Ferriera was a delightfully self-absorbed and clueless Alfred, the aforementioned annoying tenor.

Cindy Sadler
Photo:  Richard Blinkoff
Under the capable baton of Artistic Director Douglas Kinney Frost, the Central New York orchestra Symphoria played the score and the interpolated Strauss concert pieces delightfully. The Syracuse Opera Chorus clearly enjoyed this show, and sang well, although I can't help but wonder how much better it would have been had the chorus been twice as large.

The new English version by Jerald Schwiebert was quite a welcome change to some of the deadly dull or painful dialogue and lyrics we sometimes hear, and it tightened up the story and the action considerably. (The title of this blog post is a reference to a phrase from the older translation.)

Quibbles? Very few. Although the set (from Virginia Opera) seemed a bit amateurish in some ways, I did like the unifying element of the faux-great art works hanging on the walls in every scene. And  although I enjoyed the interpolated Strauss concert polkas, it made Acts II and III, which were combined with out an intermission, even longer than necessary.

My complaints are very few, and I must report that the performance as a whole was delightful.  Bravo Syracuse Opera!

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