Die Fledermaus

Johann Strauss (son)

Based on “Le Réveillon” by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy

Libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée / In German with German and English surtitles

Premiere: 3 June 2023 / Salzburg State Theatre

Synopsis

Excessive celebrations, erotic games, mistaken identities and a mysterious underlying conspiracy: “Die Fledermaus” is considered the crown jewel of operettas and has had a strong foothold in Austria’s cultural identity since its world premiere. In this respect, it is comparable to hardly any other work.

By rights, Gabriel von Eisenstein should be in prison, but he prefers to enjoy the merriment of a fancy-dress ball hosted by Prince Orlofsky. His confusion upon seeing his maid Adele at the ball, who has assumed a fake identity, is soon forgotten when he meets an unknown beauty. Spellbound, Eisenstein does not recognise the supposed stranger, who is really his own wife Rosalinde. Without realising it, he has fallen victim to a mischievous plan of revenge, whose final payoff will not be revealed until after the end of the ball. The exhilaration of the night is followed by a rude awakening in the morning.

“Die Fledermaus” contrasts the bourgeois daily lives of its protagonists with their self-indulgent nightly affairs and unmasks the absurdity of certain social codes of conduct. The operetta’s indispensable waltzes and polkas fuel the frenzy of the masked ball – for which all participants blame the champagne – until the facade of an allegedly civilised society drops.

“Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss the Younger (1825–1899) is regarded as a highlight of the golden age of operetta. Ever since its world premiere, it has been part of the regular repertoire, in Austria and beyond. Based on a vaudeville play by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy (the grand masters of French operetta), Karl Haffner and Richard Genée created a sparkling comedy full of ambiguities.

Alexandra Liedtke, who has staged productions for the Salzburg Festival, the Vienna Burgtheater and the Vienna State Opera, directs Strauss’s masterpiece at the Salzburg State Theatre. The theatre’s Musical Director Leslie Suganandarajah conducts the spirited operetta himself.