'If it proves so, then loving goes by haps; some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps' Act III, Scene I, Much Ado About Nothing
When thinking about the opera I was about to see, for some reason I expected dramatic, sombre wailing to shatter the wine glass in my hand as it reached the impressive and terrifying heights of a top A. Instead, I was to fall about in fits of laughter at this light hearted and comedic Operetta. The Welsh National Opera’s comic romp, Die Fledermaus, weaves together a delightfully complex tale of mistaken identity, flirtation, pranks and revenge that’s fuelled by lots and lots of champagne… what more could you want of an autumnal evening?
In its simplest form, the plot follows three members of a household: the Lord, the Lady and the Maid, who all attend a party that none of them should be at, thrown by Russian Prince Orlosfsky. Each take on disguises; each have something to hide. Chuck in an Italian tenor, mistaken for the Lord and escorted off to prison, and the establishment governor who takes the night off to attend the ball, and all the elements are in place for the usual farcical tropes of entanglement and mistaken identity.
Its perky energy is captured by a cast that looks to be having their own private party. Especially Rhian Lois, who, as the maid, enters trilling in lyric soprano with a glint behind the eye that makes her incredibly watchable. Lois dazzles each time she is on stage as her vocals float through the auditorium of the Hippodrome and her acting maintains an astounding energy from start to finish. She is joined by the talented Judith Howarth playing Rosalinde with an ease and confidence that show her years of experience on stage; Mark Stone as Eisenstein performs his character playfully throughout and Ben McAteer’s dazzling vocals as Falke, suspend one’s disbelief.
Also joining the cast as the standout comic jailer Frosch, is the brilliant Welsh actor Steve Speirs. He plays the part hilariously and even has the vivacious audacity to joke with and playfully mock the endearing and hugely talented conductor James Southall. Musically, Die Fledermaus was outstanding. From the first note of the overture, the orchestra gave a mind-blowing crash course in Strauss leaving every audience member transfixed. Throughout they continued to repeatedly draw my attention from the stage to the pit.
Overall a must-see show, whether you are completely new to opera or not!