With Spring on the way, it seems the perfect time for Welsh National Opera to tackle the light, frothy world of Johann Strauss’s operetta, Die Fledermaus, and this production, directed by John Copley, does a good job of lifting the spirits.
The orchestra, under Austrian conductor Thomas Rosner, certainly brought out the fizz in Strauss’s score, while Copley has kept things simple, creating a knockabout farce that’s at times closer to the slapstick, trousers-down comedy of Michael Frayn than Viennese operetta.
There are some fantastic performances; Nuccia Focile is likeable as Rosalinde, and her superb voice is more than a match for Strauss’s intricate music. But special mentions go to the truly wonderful Alan Opie as Frank and Joanne Boag, who is perfect as the cheeky chambermaid, Adele (pictured above). Desmond Barrit – fresh from his role in the touring production of Alan Bennett’s Habit of Art – does a fine job of the entirely comic, non-singing role of Frosch (complete with Go Compare jokes at the expense of tenor, Paul Charles Clarke).
If there are any faults, they are Strauss’s own; the third act – coming after the delicious intrigues of the ball scene – is a musical rehash of what’s gone before, and the plot is definitely in danger of losing momentum. Copley wisely keeps things bowling along, and with some sterling backup from WNO’s excellent chorus, there’s a satisfyingly belting ending, complete with some bonus Strauss waltzes, played just before the curtain.
Die Fledermaus is also showing on Friday 11 March at Birmingham Hippodrome, ring the box office on Tel: 0844 338 5000 for details.