The story of Die Fledermaus can be a bit confusing, so to prepare you for the Grade 5 opera (running Thursday and Friday at the McPherson Playhouse) here’s a quick summary written by director Mr. Duncan Frater:
Gabriel Eisenstein is the primary character, he’s a narcissist. We start the opera in his house where his maid Adele receives a letter from her sister inviting her to a fancy party. Keep in mind, it’s 1874 and maids don’t typically get invited to fancy parties unless they’re in uniform, so we know something is up.
Rosalinda, Gabriel’s wife, has an old flame who has hunted her down. His name is Alfred, and he’s inappropriate. Rosalinda has no interest in him, but he, being an opera star, doesn’t enjoy being turned down. Rosalinda also has a weakness: his beautiful voice.
Gabriel is supposed to go to prison for hitting a police officer, but has been invited to a party instead by his friend Dr. Falke. He goes to the party and manages to postpone going to jail. Alfred ends up taking his place in jail, somewhat accidentally.
Surprise, Rosalinda ends up at the same party, and so does the man in charge of the prison. At this shindig, the philandering Gabriel accidentally hits on his own wife (who has chosen to don a masquerade mask) and makes a complete idiot of himself.
The party ends and Gabriel reluctantly drags himself to prison only to learn he’s already there. Normally, that would be fine, except he learns that the impostor was caught hanging out in his house earlier, wearing his favourite dressing gown.
When Gabriel’s lawyer arrives, more nonsense occurs, but it all ends with a big happy song… sort of – but nobody asks any questions. And, since I’ve never been to Austria, I assume that’s how the Austrians handle all their problems. Peach schnapps anyone?
Grade 5 Reflections
My Grade 5 peers and I are doing an opera called Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss II. It is quite funny and interesting; so much so that during the many rehearsals we have, I get absorbed by it. Lots of times in rehearsals we don’t get things right the first time. It takes around 2-5 tries to get something completely right. Mr. Frater tries to make it as perfect as it can be. My character is named Ida and I am Adele’s older sister. I am a very snooty woman and I try to kick my sister out of the ball. I think I am most excited about opening night because I can get my worries out and show my family what I have been learning. My favourite part of the opera is a song we sing called “Enough My Friends.” I like it because it is quite upbeat and fun. I hope you enjoy our opera! – by Jamie
It is an amusing production but it takes a lot of practice to get ready for the final product. The whole opera is based on revenge on Gabriel Eisenstein for a joke he played on Falke. Being in the opera is hard work – you need to memorize your lines and come in on time. My character is Helga Gruber and my husband is Johann Gruber (played by Neil). We are party guests at the big ball that the prince is hosting. One of my favourite parts is when Gabriel Eisenstein flirts with his own wife because it is a masquerade party and he doesn’t know she is spying on him. The thing I am most nervous about is remembering my lines. I have never been in a big production like this so I don’t know how it will lay out in the auditorium. I am most excited about when Gabriel finds out it was a big joke! – by Ava
I am really looking forward to one of the climaxes of the Grade 5 year: the operetta, because it is a unique experience and because I haven’t acted in a public theatre before. Even though I don’t have a main role, or even a secondary, it is still lots of fun. Most of my peers who don’t have a big role like me are in Act Two, which is a party scene. We have been assigned wives and husbands, and we have to waltz and have fun with them. Mr. Frater has given us all at least two lines to say so we still get the spotlight for a short time at least. It is lots of fun to watch the other parts of the production because Mr. Frater has modernized it and it is very funny. I am slightly nervous that not everyone (including me) will remember their lines, but I am sure that it will turn out smoothly. – by Neil
I recently performed with Pacific Opera Victoria in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as one of the fairies, so this is not my first opera experience. But I have really enjoyed working with Mr. Frater and am looking forward to performing Die Fledermaus with my friends. It’s always fun to do things you enjoy with your friends. I play Dr. Deaf, a lawyer for Gabriel Eisenstein, and the assistant to Dr. Blint. My favourite part of the show is the quartet with Rosalinda, Eisenstein, Dr. Blint and myself. It really sounds great with all of us together. I am really excited to be able to act and sing in front of an audience and to show people how much I love to sing. – by Ty
My character is Gabriel Eisenstein. The thing I’ve most enjoyed is learning the emotions of the the character and expressing those emotions. My favourite part of the show is when Eisenstein tells his lawyer to switch clothes with him to spy on his wife. I think it will be a great experience for everyone because it will be our first time on stage in front of a large audience. The most important thing about preparing for the opera is self-monitoring: if you don’t know some lines very well, then practice them. If you know some lines like the back of your hand, practice it too, but not as much. – by Arjun
We’ve experienced many different things on the opera stage this term. We started it all with just singing, but as time went by we added the dancing and acting. Now, we are at the time when we do rehearsals of different scenes with both classes combined. There are so many interesting characters in the opera and it’s fun to get dressed up and be your character. My character is Eva Heinz. I dance and do some speaking. Mostly everyone has their own lines and we all sing. What I am most looking forward to is the day when we actually go to the McPherson Playhouse, which is where it will take place. Overall I think it is a great way to end Grade 5! – by Ella
Die Fledermaus runs nightly at 7 p.m. on June 2 and 3. Tickets are $24 each and are available online.