Sarasota Opera performs 'Die Fledermaus'

'Die Fledermaus' is one of the most popular operettas in the world

mclear@bradenton.comOctober 31, 2013 

"Die Fledermaus" is the most often-produced operetta in the world, and Maestro Victor DeRenzi says it's not hard to tell why.

"It's written by Johann Strauss, the waltz king, and it's full of melodic music, much of its based on a dance impetus," said DeRenzi, the artistic director of the Sarasota Opera. "Even if you don't know it going in, you'll be singing it on the way out."

"Die Fledermaus" opens the 2013-14 seasons for the Sarasota Opera, with five performances beginning Friday.

The sprightly music and the happy storyline ("Nobody dies and the last thing you hear is a toast to champagne," DeRenzi said) make "Die Fledermaus" an ideal choice for the opera novice or dabbler. But the beauty and complexity of the Strauss' music, including the instantly recognizable "Die Fledermaus Waltz," allows the opera to appeal just as much to connoisseurs.

"The music is very infectious," he said, "but it is not pop music by any means. It's a very romantic opera, which is something we do at Sarasota Opera quite often."

The full Sarasota Orchestra joins the Sarasota ballet for this production.

Because it's an operetta, with a lot of spoken dialogue, "Die Fledermaus" is performed in English translation. DeRenzi said he thinks the tradition the Sarasota Opera uses is the best available.

"It's very singable, and very faithful to the original," he said.

Strauss was about 50 years old and he had never written an opera before he created "Die Fledermaus," which is based on a German farce and a French vaudeville play. It premiered in 1874 and has been a staple of opera companies around the world ever since.

This will be the fourth time the Sarasota Opera has staged "Die Fledermaus" during the tenure of DeRenzi, who's now beginning his 32nd season as artistic director. The company did another production of "Die Fledermaus" in 1989. It first mounted this production in 2003, and then reprised it in 2006.

The story has to do with a wealthy philanderer named Eisenstein. Just before he has to report to jail to serve a sentence for a minor offense, he attends a ball that turns out to be a sort of elaborate practical joke meant to get revenge on him for a different offense. Mistaken identities lead to all sorts of mix-ups, but the ending is celebratory.

"You go out of the theater wanting to dance," DeRenzi said, "and to drink."

Details: Nov. 1-15, Sarasota Opera House 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Nov. 1, 5, 7 and 13; 1:30 p.m. Nov. 3 and 15. Tickets: $19-$125. Information: 941-366-8450, www.sarasotaopera.org.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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