If you try to ignore for a moment the modern venue of the Israeli Opera House in Tel Aviv, you could easily imagine yourself sitting in an opera theatre in Vienna in 1916, or even decades earlier at the Folies Bergère, but not in 2016. On one hand you can appreciate the Authenticity and praise the production for adhering to the genius original virtues of Johann Strauss Jr. and his contemporaries. On the other hand, without any modern perspective or a creative new idea for an opera so familiar and popular, banality is not a less adequate impression that comes to mind from this Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre production.
Die Fledermaus (The Bat) was premiered in 1874 at the Theatre an der Wien in Vienna, became an immediate success and by the end of the century was performed over 300 times. The plot not only reflected the cultural climate of the period, in many ways it also helped in shaping it.
This is a very professional show, with the main elements of an operetta being all in place: singing, dancing, acrobatics, humour, erotica, lighting. It all flows smoothly with no glitches on the way. Strauss’s amazing score, when played in such a big opera house, may deserve a wider philharmonic sound, not just a thirty-something musicians band, but their performance was excellent, exposing well the fantastic score, orchestration and unexpected passages.
First to appear on stage was the jailer Frosch, traditionally played by a local comedian. The choice in this case was the stand-up artist Israel Katorza, whose acting was excellent but he was not as funny here as in his regular appearances.
Vocally speaking, the lady roles were the most impressive. Anita Lukacz as Adele is a genuine self confident coloratura soprano, very fit for her role. Her sister Ida, was virtuously played, sung and danced by Marika Oszvald whose acting talent is a definitely an asset for any comic opera. For Monika Fischl as Rosalinda it took some time to warm up but for her key arias at Prince Olavsky’s ball she was already at her best. Peter Balczo has a pleasant and smooth tenor for his Alfred role. Frank, the Prison Governor, is not expected to sing much and Andras Farago is a very adequate actor for the role. Last but not the least of the key roles was the tenor Zsolt Vadasz as Eisenstein who did not leave a real impact on the production. Like in so many other productions of Die Fledermaus these days, a baritone may have been a better choice.
Some extra laughs from the audience resulted from the cast’s efforts to insert Hebrew phrases here and there in their dialogues. Totally surprising and not a hindrance for international viewers who could still enjoy the English subtitles.
- By Johann Strauss Jr.
- Director: Kero®
- Conductor: Laszlo Maklary
- Budapest Operetta and Musical Theatre
- Cast includes: Israel Katorza, Anita Lukacs, Monika Fischl, Peter Balczo, Andras Farago, Marika Oszvald
- Israeli Opera, Tel-Aviv
- Until 21 February 2016
- Sung in German with English and Hebrew subtitles
- Review by Shmuel Ben-tovim
- 11 February 2016