About this Recording
8.111036-37 - STRAUSS II, J.: Die Fledermaus (The Bat) (Schwarzkopf, Gedda, Karajan) (1955)
English 

Johann Strauss II (1825–1899)
Die Fledermaus

Operetta in Three Acts
Libretto by Haffner and Genée
from a French comedy, Le Réveillon, by Meilhac and Halévy

Gabriel von Eisenstein – Nicolai Gedda (tenor)
Rosalinde – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
Alfred – Helmut Krebs (tenor)
Adele – Rita Streich (soprano)
Frank – Karl Dönch (baritone)
Dr. Falke – Erich Kunz (baritone)
Prince Orlofsky – Rudolf Christ (tenor)
Dr. Blind – Erich Majkut (tenor)
Speaking parts:
Frosch – Franz Böheim
Ida – Luise Martini

Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus
Herbert von Karajan, conductor

Recorded 26–30 April 1955 in Kingsway Hall, London
First issued on Columbia 33CX 1309 and 1310
Reissue Producer and Restoration Engineer: Mark Obert-Thorn

 

The origins of what eventually became known as Die Fledermaus first crossed a number of international boundaries. In 1851 a play entitled Das Gefängnis (The Prison) by Roderick Benedix appeared in Berlin. This was a low-brow comedy of errors, brim full of mistaken identities. 21 years later the Frenchmen Louis Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, librettists for both Bizet and Offenbach, produced a spirituel vaudeville in Paris, based on The Prison, which they entitled Le réveillon (Supper on Christmas Eve). Max Steiner, co-director of the Theater an der Wien in Vienna acquired the Austrian rights to the play and felt it would be an ideal vehicle for Johann Strauss to set to music. Carl Haffner had translated the French play into German but the idea of a midnight supper party of the original caused some problems and, furthermore, Steiner was unhappy with Haffner’s efforts. The distinguished librettist Richard Genée, also a conductor and composer, was then drafted in to rework the play for Viennese audiences, the location now being set in ‘a spa town outside a big city’. He also contributed a great deal to the finished musical score.

The operetta was sketched out in seven weeks but took six months to reach the stage. It has been inaccurately described as an initial failure. The work ran for just sixteen performances after its première on 5 April 1874, but the theatre had been previously booked to accommodate a visiting company, after which the operetta was again reinstated at the Theater an der Wien. Both Mahler and Richard Strauss conducted the work at the Court Opera in Vienna. London later enjoyed a celebrated 1930 production conducted by Bruno Walter and in 1950 the new Austrian-born General Manager Rudolf Bing inaugurated a celebrated production at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. The work has been filmed on a number of occasions (1931 and 1955, the latter as Oh! Rosalinda and set in post-1945 Vienna), adapted as Gay Rosalinda in 1945 for a London production conducted by Richard Tauber (he also recorded the Overture which is included on CD2, track 11), and translated into a variety of languages. Little wonder, therefore, that it remains Johann Strauss’s most popular stage work.

The characters include Gabriel von Eisenstein, described as a man of private means, his wife Rosalinde, Frank, a prison governor, Prince Orlofsky, his singing teacher Alfred, Doctor Falke, a notary, Doctor Blind, a lawyer, Adele, Rosalinde’s maid, Ida, her sister, and Frosch, a jailer, which is a spoken part. Mixed with a touch of intrigue, a dash of sparkle and that indefinable thing called genius, and you have what is now recognised as one of the finest of all operettas.

The first complete recording of Die Fledermaus was made under Bruno Seidler-Winkler in Berlin in 1907. In 1928 an electrically recorded abridged version appeared under Hans Weigert but it was not until September 1950 that another complete studio recording was made, this time in Vienna under Clemens Krauss, a very last-minute replacement for an ailing Josef Krips. This justly famous set sadly omitted any dialogue. For this recording the text was suitably edited by its producer, Walter Legge (1906–1979).

The year 1954 saw the introduction of experimental binaural or stereo recording. In the United States RCA had begun in December 1953 and by the latter part of the following year were using the new system in parallel with the established single channel or mono sound. In Europe Decca began recording with the binaural system in May 1954 and during July and August had even recorded three complete operas in Rome. EMI followed in February 1955 with orchestral recording and by early April Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Walter Gieseking recorded a collection of Mozart songs, produced by her husband Walter Legge. One might then ask why Legge did not make use of this new system for the recording of Die Fledermaus later that month. The problem lay with the producer himself, who quite failed to recognise the great advance in recorded sound that stereo gave and would continue to give. He saw the new system simply in terms of channel separation, not as an overall balanced and homogenised quality of sound with both width and depth. It was without doubt Walter Legge’s gravest artistic misjudgement, one that would cost his recording company dearly in the next few years. The use of stereo sound would indeed have have greatly enhanced the impact of this recording of Die Fledermaus.

The rôle of Rosalinde is sung by the German soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (b. 1915). She studied at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik and later with the soprano Maria Ivogün, making her début as one of the Flowermaidens in Parsifal with the Städtische Oper, Berlin in 1938. Originally a lyrical soprano she undertook rôles such as Adele in Die Fledermaus, Musetta in La Bohème and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos when she joined the Vienna State Opera under Karl Böhm in 1943. Her first overseas appearance was with this company on their visit to London in 1947, when she sang Donna Elvira, and Marzelline in Fidelio. She then joined the fledgling permanent Covent Garden Company, where for five seasons she sang a variety of rôles, mostly in English. Alongside these appearances, Schwarzkopf sang at the Salzburg Festival (1946–1964), La Scala, Milan (1948–1963), San Francisco (1955–1964) and, finally, the Metropolitan in New York in 1964. She was greatly admired in the rôles of the Marschallin, Fiordiligi, Donna Elvira, and the Countess in Le nozze di Figaro. She also had a distinguished parallel career as a Lieder singer in the concert hall. She was the wife of the impresario and recording producer Walter Legge, whom she married in 1953.

The rôle of Eisenstein is taken by the Swedish tenor Nicolai Gedda (b. 1925). His versatility has always been considered remarkable in that he has sung in and can speak seven languages. Born in Stockholm of a Russian father and Swedish mother, he was trained at his native Royal Academy of Music. Making his début in 1951, he soon aroused international interest with his performance of Chapelou in Adam’s Le postillon de Longjumeau. He first appeared at La Scala in Milan in 1953, quickly followed by engagements in Paris, London and New York. He created and later recorded the rôle of Anatol in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa in 1958. He re-appeared in London in 1966, 1969 and 1976 but did not make his solo début until the age of sixty. Gedda sang at the Metropolitan in New York over 22 seasons in almost three hundred performances. His professional longevity was remarkable in that he was still recording as recently as 2002. His discography covers every aspect of the repertory.

Born of a Russian mother and a German prisoner-of-war father, the lyric soprano Rita Streich (1920–1987) studied with Maria Ivogün, Erna Berger and Willi Domgraf-Fassbänder. She made her début in 1943 at Aussig as Zerbinetta. In 1946 she became a member of the Berlin Staatsoper where her rôles included Blonde in Die Entführung and Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann. In the ensuing six years she also sang Zerlina, Gilda, and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier. In 1952–53 she appeared as the Woodbird in Siegfried at the Bayreuth Festival, later joining the Staatsoper in Vienna, where she remained a member until her retirement from the stage in 1972. Streich made frequent appearances at Munich, however, and in 1954 sang Zerlina and Susanna in London, and appeared at the Salzburg Festival as Aennchen in Der Freischütz. The soprano made her American début in 1957 at San Francisco and in 1960 appeared at the Chicago Lyric Opera. These were her last American opera appearances. Her voice was a small instrument for all its purity and technical control, better suited to a small theatre such as Glyndebourne, where she appeared for the first time in 1958 as Zerbinetta. During the 1950s, Streich became well known on record as Zerbinetta, Sophie, Susanna, Aennchen, Adele in Die Fledermaus, and Blonde, in addition to songs by Mozart, Schubert, Wolf, Richard Strauss, even Milhaud. Streich retired from the stage in 1972 to teach at Essen, but returned four years later to Vienna, where she continued to teach, before dying there at the age of 66. She was the foremost German coloratura of her generation.

The German tenor Helmut Krebs was born in Aachen in 1913 but moved to Dortmund and later Berlin. His début was as Monostatos in Die Zauberflöte at the Berlin Volksoper in 1937. His career was interrupted by military service and it was not until 1945 that it began again in Düsseldorf. He based his career on the stage and the concert hall, in the latter as a much-admired Evangelist in the Bach Passions as well as contributing to the performance of early music. Krebs sang Achilles in Iphigenie in Aulis, the title-rôle in the German première of Britten’s Albert Herring, the Watchman in Orff’s Antigonae (1949), the Astrologer in Le coq d’or, Apollo and the First Shepherd, and later the title-rôle in Monteverdi’s Orfeo and Aaron in Moses und Aron. He also sang at Covent Garden, and the Hamburg, Munich and Vienna State Operas. At Glyndebourne he sang Belmonte in Die Entführung, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte and Ottavio in Don Giovanni. In 1981 Krebs performed the part of the old prisoner in Janáček’s From the House of the Dead and the Simpleton in Boris Godunov at the Deutschen Oper in Berlin. As recently as May 2002 Helmut Krebs sang his own Oboen-Lieder, Op. 47. In 1966 he became a professor at the Musikhochschule in Frankfurt.

The Austrian baritone Erich Kunz (1909–1995) was born in Vienna, studying with Professor Lierhammer and the baritone Hans Duhan. Making his début as Osmin in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail in Troppau in 1933, he spent the summer of 1935 as a member of the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus. Then followed periods in Plauen (1936–37) and Breslau (1937–41) before he joined the Vienna State Opera in 1940. Two years later he sang Figaro in Mozart’s opera at the Salzburg Festival in addition to Beckmesser at Bayreuth. He first visited London as a member of the Vienna ensemble, singing, Figaro, Leporello and Guglielmo. He sang this last rôle when returning to Glyndebourne in 1950. He also spent three seasons at the Metropolitan in New York between 1952 and 1954. A fine Mozartian, Kunz was much admired for his engaging stage manner. His repertoire also included operetta and native Viennese popular Lieder.

Karl Dönch (1915–1994) spent virtually all his career as a member of the Staatsoper in Vienna, graduating from the chorus to small rôles, which included Bartolo in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Melitone in La forza del destino, Faninal in Der Rosenkavalier and Beckmesser in Die Meistersinger. He first sang at the Salzburg Festival in 1951 and later appeared in Berlin and Buenos Aires.

The Austrian tenor Rudolf Christ (b. 1916) was born in Vienna where the larger part of his career was spent, either in the Volksoper or Staatsoper, where he specialised in comprimario rôles. He studied with Alfred Vogel and then spent a number of years as a chorister at the Volksoper. He made his solo début at Innsbruck in 1941 and worked in Zurich between 1946 and 1949. Christ then joined the Vienna Volksoper, later becoming a member of the opera at Düsseldorf-Duisberg in 1956. He was a regular performer at the Salzburg Festival. Christ also appeared in Belgium and Italy.

Like his colleague Rudolf Christ the tenor Erich Majkut (1907–1976) was also born in Vienna, where he spent the larger part of his career, again either in the Volksoper or Staatsoper where he too specialised in comprimario rôles. He joined the Staatsoper in 1928 and was also a regular performer at the Salzburg Festival. His international engagements included performances in Milan, London, Brussels and Berlin plus the Bayreuth Festival in 1951. He was also active in the concert hall.

The distinguished Austrian actor Franz Böheim undertakes the spoken rôle of Frosch the jailer, and a most entertaining job he makes of it. He is also remembered for his part in the film The Good Soldier Schweik (1963).

The Austrian-born conductor Herbert von Karajan (1908–1989) studied first in Salzburg and then in Vienna under Franz Schalk. He made his début in Ulm in 1929 and remained there for five years, moving to Aachen between 1935 and 1937. A much-praised Berlin début conducting Tristan und Isolde led to his international career. Banned from conducting in public from 1945 to 1947, he made his first London appearance in 1948 and became a regular visitor for the next decade with further appearances with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Karajan was appointed conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1955 and continued until his death. He also appeared during the same period both in Vienna and at the Salzburg Festival in July and August in addition to the Salzburg Easter Festival that he inaugurated in 1967 so that his prestige and influence were enormous. He became the most significant conductor during the second half of the twentieth century. In addition Karajan also conducted at La Scala in Milan and made a number of visits to Japan. He left a large number of filmed recordings of his conducting. As an interpreter he is thought to have made more recordings than any other classical musician.

When the finished recording first appeared in November 1955 The Gramophone remarked that “Schwarzkopf’s Rosalinde has so much character” and on the inclusion of enough dialogue “for a German-speaking listener to follow the story unaided. So there is a positive gain in stage-illusion about this set”. Karajan’s handling of the score was not quite so smiling or irresistible as the late Clemens Krauss. A later review found “Streich…an agile, utterly charming foil” and Gedda “more positive and confident than in some of his earlier operetta recordings”. The use of a male tenor instead of the more usual mezzo-soprano for the rôle of Orlofsky was also noted, and the omission of the Ballet Music.

The performers in the appendix of historical recordings were all associated with the operetta during the first forty years of the twentieth century, each in turn beguiling and captivating, conveying the performing style of the inter-war years to perfection. Richard Tauber’s conducting is a fine reminder of his extraordinary versatility.


Malcolm Walker

 

Synopsis

CD 1

[1] The Overture is a medley of tunes from the opera, looking forward to the third act in its first three melodies, followed by the famous Fledermaus waltz.

Act I

[2] Introduction. The scene is the house of Eisenstein. The voice of Alfred is heard singing to his turtle-dove that he has so often kissed, his beloved Rosalinde. [3] The maid Adele comes into the room reading a letter from her sister Ida, a dancer in the ballet, who suggests that she should borrow a dress from Rosalinde and come to a grand supper at Prince Orlofsky’s to which the whole ballet has been invited: Adele laments her position as a servant, and wishes she were a turtle-dove, to fly where she would. Adele wonders who is singing outside, realising, as she listens, that this must be Rosalinde’s lover. [4] Rosalinde now enters, alarmed at the possible scandal that Alfred’s presence may cause. Adele asks leave of her mistress to visit a sick aunt, but Rosalinde tells her that this is impossible: that day her husband Eisenstein is to be arrested and needs a good supper before his five days in prison: Adele must stay in.

[5] In a duettino Adele regrets yet again her position as a servant, while Rosalinde, while refusing permission, is sorry for her. [6] When Adele has gone, Alfred calls out to his Rosalinde, who is terrified that her husband may come in and find her lover at the window, but he makes her promise to allow him to return when her husband is away, and he has heard a rumour that he will soon be in prison. Rosalinde is in two minds about this, but says that, while she can resist his talking, she must give in to his top Cs. She breaks off as she hears Eisenstein and his lawyer Dr Blind approaching.

[7] Eisenstein comes in complaining of the uselessness of his lawyer, while Blind urges patience. [8] The two continue to quarrel, while Rosalinde tries to calm them. Eisenstein blames Blind for the extension of his sentence by three days: the lawyer chatters like a starling, stutters, crows like a cockerel. [9] Blind is equally angry and in his defence lists the procedures he can go through on appeal. [10] Eisenstein dismisses Blind, and Rosalinde feigns distress at her husband’s coming imprisonment. Adele announces the arrival of Dr Falke who suggests another engagement. [11] He brings Eisenstein an invitation to supper at the villa of Prince Orlofsky, the young Russian millionaire. Eisenstein at first demurs, but wavers when he hears that the petits rats, the girls of the ballet, will be there. Falke reminds him of the masked ball at Schönbrunn when Eisenstein had gone as a butterfly and Falke as a bat, for which Falke should have his revenge. Eisenstein takes out his famous rat-catcher, his repeater watch, with which he fascinates the ladies. Falke repeats his invitation, holding out the promise of pretty ballerinas. Eisenstein is anxious that his wife should not know, and Falke tells him to bid a fond farewell to the little kitten. No, replies Eisenstein, to his little mouse, while he slinks out of the house like a cat and goes to the party instead of to prison. He must be the Marquis Renard, Falke suggests. [12] Eisenstein realises that he now has a problem with his dress. Rosalinde brings in the shabby clothes he had asked for, but he has changed his mind. She is puzzled when he asks Falke to give his greeting to the rats, but explains that the prison is full of rats. Now, however, he will change into evening dress and top hat, as a protest against his imprisonment. Adele appears with the supper and Rosalinde, with her own scheme in mind, allows her the evening off to visit her sick aunt. Eisenstein re-appears, ready to go without his supper, and the couple take a fond parting. [13] In a terzetto Rosalinde laments her coming eight days of loneliness, joined by Eisenstein and Adele, although all have their own delights to look forward to. [14] When the other two have gone, Rosalinde lets Alfred in and he proceeds to make himself comfortable. Rosalinde protests, but first they will drink, then sing. [15] In the Finale of the act Alfred bids Rosalinde drink quickly: it will bring a sparkle to her eyes. [16] She wonders what will come of this, since Alfred clearly intends to spend the night with her, but they agree that it is best to forget what cannot be changed. Voices are heard and the sound of someone coming upstairs. [17] The prison governor Frank is admitted, come to collect Rosalinde’s husband. Alfred is happily singing and drinking, and invites Frank, who naturally takes him for Eisenstein, to join him. Frank is prepared to make allowances. Alfred denies that he is Eisenstein, but Rosalinde insists that he must be her husband: after all she would hardly sit at home with a stranger in a dressing-gown, ensconced there like a pasha. Frank is convinced and Alfred takes a parting kiss, thinking that he will certainly find Eisenstein himself in the prison when he gets there. Frank now urges Alfred to hurry to the carriage outside so that they can soon be at his birdcage, with its gaol-birds fluttering in and out. Alfred promises Rosalinde to remain silent and seeks yet another farewell kiss. Frank hurries Alfred out, since he too is on his way to Prince Orlofsky’s.

Act II

[18] At Prince Orlofsky’s the party has begun. A chorus of guests celebrates, the key-note being amusement. [19] Orlofsky comes in, chatting with Falke, who explains the charade he has arranged, The Revenge of the Bat. Adele arrives, wearing one of Rosalinde’s dresses, and is greeted by her surprised sister, whose invitation to her had been intended as a joke: the party is for fine folk, but Ida quickly decides to introduce Adele as an artiste, as Ida comes forward and presents Adele as an actress, Olga, but the latter is nonplussed when Orlofsky addresses her in Russian. Falke privately explains to the Prince the true situation. At this moment the hero of Falke’s drama is announced, the Marquis Renard, alias Eisenstein. He is introduced to his host. [20] Orlofsky is bored with his millions, but enjoys his parties, where his guests must find pleasure or be thrown out, drink with him or have a bottle thrown at their heads. He ends by repeating his motto, Chacun à son goût. [21] Adele and Eisenstein recognise each other, to their mutual consternation, but Falke introduces the girls to Eisenstein as Olga and Ida, while Orlofsky begins to enjoy the joke that Falke has prepared. Eisenstein asks Adele if she has always been Olga, and Adele asks him if he has always been a Marquis Renard, and urges him to say whom she resembles. His housemaid, he tells her. [22] Orlofsky calls on his guests to enjoy the joke: the Marquis has mistaken Adele for a servant. He reproaches him with his lack of gallantry, but Eisenstein pleads that the likeness is striking. [23] Adele adds that a man like the Marquis should know better: maidservants do not have such fine hands, such dainty feet, such a way of speaking and dressing, and she laughs at his mistake, mirth in which the rest of the company joins. [24] Adele haughtily pardons him. A new guest, the Chevalier Chagrin, appears, really, as Falke explains to Orlofsky, the prison governor Frank. He is welcomed by Falke and Orlofsky and apologizes for his lateness. Falke now introduces the supposed French Chevalier to the Marquis Renard—fellow-countrymen, as Orlofsky remarks. The two now attempt conversation. Ida asks when supper will be, since she is hungry, and Falke says they must wait for the arrival of a very interesting guest, a Hungarian countess, married to a stupid fellow and therefore to remain masked during the party. [25] The guests resume their enjoyment. [26] At this point the new guest arrives, Rosalinde, dressed as a Hungarian countess, having received a message from Falke to remain disguised from her husband. She immediately recognises Adele and her own dress. In conversation with Frank, Eisenstein proposes a new conquest, to Falke’s amusement. Rosalinde now starts to admire Eisenstein’s watch, which he describes as an open sesame with the girls. In the following conversation she plans to take possession of the watch as corpus delicti, proof of her husband’s infidelity. [27] The flirtation between Eisenstein and Rosalinde continues, the latter remarking in an aside on her husband’s choice of kisses rather than chains. [28] She takes the watch, but is urged by the company to remove her mask, but she refuses. [29] In the famous Czárdás Rosalinde sings of her alleged homeland, a remarkable performance that should convince everyone. [30] Orlofsky announces supper and persuades Eisenstein to tell the story of the Schönbrunn masked ball which Eisenstein and Falke had attended as butterfly and bat, the second with a dark skin, black wings, long claws and an improbable yellow beak. Eisenstein had abandoned his friend to sleep it off in the middle of the city and then, when day came, to make his way home through the city in his strange costume, with everyone laughing at Doctor Bat, as he went by. He who laughs last laughs best, Falke remarks. [31] In the Finale of Act II Orlofsky sings in praise of King Champagne, followed by Eisenstein and then Adele. [32] Eisenstein, in his rô1e as Marquis Renard, toasts the Chevalier Chagrin, and the two thank each other, their refrain of “merci” echoed by the chorus. Falke leads the company in a hymn to brotherhood and sisterhood, for ever, as today. [33] Orlofsky calls for quiet for the ballet, and the orchestra plays in accompaniment to the polka of the chorus, “Marianka, come and dance”. Orlofsky calls for quiet again and announces a czárdás. After the ballet he invites the whole company to dance, and they join in a waltz, the Fledermaus waltz first heard in the Overture. Frank and Eisenstein cement their friendship. The latter tries to make the countess unmask, but without success. When the clock strikes six, Eisenstein and Frank realise they must go and call for their hats and coats, as the party breaks up.

CD 2

Act III

[1] The final act is set in the prison. It is introduced by an entr’acte. [2] The voice of Alfred is heard, with snatches of his serenade to Rosalinde. The gaoler Frosch is drunk and complaining at the noise of Prisoner Number 12: he is not a quick drinker, as Alfred’s song would suggest, but a slow and regular drinker. His boss has advised him to put his money in the bank at 4%, but slivovitz is better at 40% proof. He goes on drinking and looks for the key to Alfred’s cell, which is already open. Alfred tells him to leave him alone, calling him a drunken idiot, an insult that Frosch, as an Austrian civil servant, resents. [3] Day is breaking, as Frank comes in, his clothes untidy and in general the worse for wear. He whistles softly the sound of the Fledermaus waltz and then dances to it, before correcting himself and trying to climb the winding stairs out of the room, with no success, before nodding off to sleep. [4] Frosch totters in to make his morning report to the Herr Direktor: Prisoner Number 12 is righting on his stands, that is, standing on his rights and asking for a lawyer. Frank’s hiccough is echoed by Frosch—Damned champagne, says Frank: damned slivovitz, says Frosch. There is a ring at the door and Frosch opens to what must be two ladies or perhaps one. They announce themselves as Ida and Olga, at which Frank is overjoyed. Frosch says they want to speak to a Kavalier Kagreun, but that cannot be Frank, who tells him to be gone. Adele has a confession to make: she is not an artiste but a maidservant in the employ of Eisenstein. And you let me kiss your hand, exclaims Frank. My mouth too, she replies, and asks him to put in a word for her with her employer for the dress she wore the night before. Ida asks him to help her sister in her proposed stage career, and Adele tries to settle his doubts on her ability. [5] Adele now displays her versatility. She can take the part of a simple country girl, or a queen or a lady from Paris, the wife of a Marquis, caught in her infidelity in the third act and finally pardoned by her husband. [6] Frank agrees to help, but they are interrupted by Frosch who announces a drunken headwaiter, the Marker Renoir, a description Frank recognises as the Marquis Renard. Frosch must hide the girls in Number 13, temporarily vacated by his brother-in-law. Eisenstein enters, greeting his dear Chevalier, who welcomes him and offers a share of his breakfast. Frank apologizes for his deception: he is not the Chevalier Chagrin but the governor of the prison. Eisenstein does not believe him, but Frank summons Frosch, who comes at the third ring of the bell, and tells him to lock the Marquis up. Frosch obeys, convincing Eisenstein, who now reveals his own identity. Frank laughs in disbelief: he cannot be Eisenstein, because Eisenstein was arrested the night before, at supper, in a dressing-gown, with his wife. Eisenstein is now alarmed. “With my wife!”—“No, with his wife!”—“His wife is my wife!”—“The two of you have one wife!” Eisenstein, Franks adds, is now in Number 12.

At this point Frosch announces another visitor, a lady, —Oak—Box-tree—yes, Rosalinde, he knew it was a tree of some sort. Frank goes out to greet her. Eisenstein now starts to doubt his senses, as Frosch ushers in another visitor, Dr Blind, a name that puzzles Frosch, since Blind can apparently see. Eisenstein asks him what he is doing in the prison, and Blind stutters back that he has summoned him. Eisenstein has a sudden idea, and borrows the lawyer’s case, glasses and coat, giving up the idea of taking the man’s wig, which he finds is the lawyer’s own hair. Frosch brings Alfred in to meet the lawyer, to an exclamation from Rosalinde, who greets her lover and warns him, but fails to recognise her husband. [7] Rosalinde urges discretion, while Alfred thinks he should tell the lawyer everything. Eisenstein plays the lawyer and elicits from Alfred that he was arrested as he took supper with Rosalinde. Eisenstein interrupts his account of matters with his own exclamations. Rosalinde, however, defends her behaviour as the wife of a deceitful husband, whose eyes she would scratch out, if he were to come home. [8] This is too much for Eisenstein, who reveals himself, to their immediate consternation. [9] Rosalinde too wants her own revenge and discloses that she was the Hungarian countess at Prince Orlofsky’s, with her husband’s watch to prove his infidelity. [10] Falke and Orlofsky have now joined the company, with other guests, and all is explained as a plot to take revenge on Eisenstein for the trick he had played Falke. They were all in the plot, the Prince, Adele, Alfred and Rosalinde. They end with Orlofsky’s motto, chacun à son goût, but the last word is Eisenstein’s, as he seeks forgiveness from Rosalinde: it was only champagne that was guilty.

 

Producer’s Note

The transfer of the complete Fledermaus was made from first edition British LP pressings. Some electronic clicks and low-frequency thumps are present in the original tape master and are not a byproduct of the LP source. In the appendix, I have taken the liberty of grouping Adele’s two arias together in order to conclude with the Act 2 Finale.

Mark Obert-Thorn


Close the window