Opera Scotland

Fledermaus 2017Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Read more about the opera Fledermaus

Impressive showing for classic operetta 

Most recent productions of this work in Scotland have been on a relatively small scale. The Conservatoire's production team for Die Fledermaus faced the no doubt welcome challenge of mounting the work in a full-scale version, with a good-sized chorus (thirty) and decent budget for sets and costumes. It can be said straight away that the results were thoroughly enjoyable.

The outer acts, with a smallish playing area at the front of the stage, worked well, updated more or less to the present. For the party scene the stage opened up impressively, displaying a massive staircase, and there was almost a 'twenties' feel about it - men in tailcoats, ladies in long, sparkly outfits with lots of feathers. Lighting was impressive, and the choreography offered hints of Busby Berkeley. The student chorus put all their group effects over with controlled enthusiasm, and sang quite beautifully, with very clear words - well trained by chorus master James Slimings. Their choreographed contribution to the interpolated Thunder and Lighting Polka also came over with style.

This production took advantage of recent political events by imposing a scattering of jokes about Brexit and locating events during negotiations in Brussels. Several of the roles were double cast, with scope for variation in treatment. At the second performance David Horton's Eisenstein became a smooth British diplomat (a David Cameron look-alike) who used his diplomatic bag to conceal such archetypal culinary treats as PG Tips and Marmite. His friend and nemesis Falke was also presented as a suave lounge-lizard, with a confident delivery of prologue and epilogue to set the scene.

Adele and her sister Ida were cockney to the point of being almost caricature gangsters - their threatening behaviour able to make mincemeat of a vulnerable Frank. Rose Stachniewska threw off Adele's coloratura showpieces with a fine sweet tone, and succeeded in making even such a hackneyed piece as the Laughing Song sound fresh. The role of Orlofsky is almost impossible to do effectively, lying awkwardly for most mezzos. However on those occasions when the part is allotted to a tenor or baritone it can sound even worse. Lynn Bellamy's performance was quite remarkably good, with no vocal problems, and an ability to make the character seem quite credible. Her intermittent Russian diction also sounded convincing.

Charlie Drummond gave a highly satisfying performance in the central role of Rosalinde. Vocally she was completely comfortable, and gave a lovely account of the treacherous Czardas. Just occasionally her sung words were lost, but dialogue was all well timed. David Lynn also did well with his dialogue and his Italian accent. The musical edition used did not permit him to present excerpts from his favourite arias, either at the start or in his prison scene, so much of his most valuable contribution came in ensemble.

The remaining roles, like Rosalinde, only had one performer, and so were on their second outing. Christopher Dollins was a nicely confused Welsh Colonel Frank, and Ravi Popoff made more than usual of the short role of the lawyer. Like Alfred, the role of the jailer Frosch was slightly abbreviated in his stand-up routine - the short third act ran straight on without a second interval. A spoken part for ever associated (for those lucky enough to have seen him in Scottish Opera's staging) with Billy Connolly, it was nicely played by that excellent tenor Jamie MacDougall, who seemed completely at ease with the traditional broad Scots comic style.

The success of the performance rested on the idiomatically relaxed performance in the orchestra pit of a good-sized band under Timothy Dean. This was, officially, Dean's final production as Head of Opera at the Conservatoire. Over more than twenty years, he has led many memorable performances in a wide range of styles, frequently to a standard that was easily on a par with the professionals. It is to be hoped that he will conduct opera in Scotland again.

Performance Cast

Adele the Eisensteins' maid

Joanna Norman (May 13, 17)

Rose Stachniewska (May 15, 19)

Rosalinde wife of Eisenstein

Charlie Drummond

Alfred an Italian tenor and admirer of Rosalinde

Richard Shaffrey (May 13, 17)

David Lynn (May 15, 19)

Gabriel von Eisenstein

Chase Henry Hopkins (May 13, 17)

David Horton (May 15, 19)

Blind Eisenstein's lawyer

Ravi Popoff

Falke a notary and friend of Eisenstein

Alexey Gusev (May 13, 17)

Jerome Knox (May 15, 19)

Frank prison governor

Christopher Dollins

Ida Adele's sister

Stephanie Stanway

Orlofsky a rich young Russian prince

Annabella Ellis (May 13, 17)

Lynn Bellamy (May 15, 19)

Frosch prison warder

Jamie MacDougall

Performance DatesFledermaus 2017

Map List

New Athenaeum Theatre | Glasgow

13 May, 19.15 15 May, 19.15 17 May, 19.15 19 May, 19.15

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