That is, Broadway in Redwood City, and lights up that sometimes sleepy street last weekend with happy "first nighters" buzzing about Johann Strauss' "Die Fledcrmaus," (The Bat), the Bay Shore Lyric Opera Company's First production at the refurbished historic Fox Theatre.
The production received an extended standing ovation from thai first night audience and deserved every moment and handclap of it
In fact, it was just about the best performance of this joyous, charming and delightful gem front the operetta repertoire I have ever seen. Although, it is often referred to as an opera, in which all text is sung, in reality this is an operetta, a spoken play with songs moving the plot along.
To be successful, therefore, the performers need to be excellent actors as well as singers and the Bay Shore cast more than meets that test. Not only are they physically attractive and believable actors but truly outstanding singers. This is not minor league stuff. They are batting in the majors.
As good as all the lead male singers are, the three lead females are on a plateau of their own. Jennifer Der Torossian as Rosalinda Eisenstein, Alexandra Alise, as her maid Adele, and Liliane Cromer, as Prince Orlofsky, have as mellow and richly modulated and soaringly beautiful sopranos as I have ever heard. One holds one's breath during each of their solos for fear of missing a single artistically turned phrase.
Tenors Andrew Carter as Gabriel Fisenstein and Christopher Campbell as Alfred, Rosalinda's clandestine lover and baritone Todd Donovan as Dr. Falke, the "hat" of the story, are little less outstanding. They could make it with just about any opera company. Robert Sheaffer, as Dr. Blind, Gahriel's lawyer, Emil Cristescu as Frank, the prison warden, and Maria Mikheyenko as Adele's cousin Ida, round out the singing cast.
But, no operetta performance may he successful without excellent instrumentalists in the pit and the full orchestra directed by Anthony Quarluccio, performed flawlessly in the famous overture so familiar in the concert halls, and in support of the action on the stage.
The Fox Dream Productions has done a great service to the mid- Peninsula community by making this 1400 seal auditorium available for opera. It is a perfect size, large enough to give the singers room in which to project, expand and resonate their most beautiful vocals, hut not so large as to lose the intimacy that plagues so many large opera venues.
What makes this version even more accessible to those who have shied away from heavy opera in its original foreign languages, is that the text and songs have been so fluently translated into English, with even supertitles flanking the stage to help in catching the lyrics of the songs.
And, what songs they are! Most of them would be familiar to just about everyone. Johann Strauss II, inherited his father's title as the "Waltz King," and followed up with some of the most spirited melodies ever written.
The plot itself is only the skeleton upon which to hang that beautiful music. Suffice it to say that it could be subtitled "The Revenge of the Bat," and involves the same kind of disguised identities and confused relationships that were so typical of ihe French and Viennese operettas of the 19lh century.
The second act, a hall at the Villa of Prince Orlofsky, shows excellent stage direction by Yefim Maizel. It may he the most beautiful set, costumes, music and dancing ever mixed and packed into a single act, and is alone worth the price of admission. This staging adds some exciting dancing by Pain Rousseau, Revel Paul, Vitaly Zherebkov and Jeffrey Katz.
Although, "Die Fledermaus" is considered to he Strauss' stage
masterpiece there is an anti-climactic third act. After the
sensational second act, even when cut, it can seem like a drag. But
stick it out to the very end for a rousing conclusion to a very