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January 2011 - Nr. 1
Happy New Year from Echo Germanica
Lucille de Saint-Andre

The operetta Die Fledermaus, by Johann Strauss, conjures up so many impressions of my childhood in Germany.

It was first performed in 1874 at Theater-an-der-Wien, Vienna. By 1880 Strauss’ magnificent music had been produced in more than 170 German-language theatres. In December 1994 the Toronto Operetta Theatre (TOT) premiered it at the Jane Mallet Theatre.

It’s one of the two sparkling pieces often performed the world over on New Year’s eve, the other being The Merry Widow, by Franz Lehár.

Based on a French farce, Le réveillon, it’s a coupling of Viennese musical charm and Parisian parody. Die Fledermaus, (The Revenge of the Bat), “is the undoubted masterpiece of Operetta’s Golden Age in Vienna,” says TOT’s General Director Guillermo Silva-Marin who plays the happy jailer, Frosch (In this production Frosch is not drunk). In addition to being the stage director, Lighting Design and Set Décor director and choreographer, Silva-Marin contributed additional dialogue and lyrics.

As for my childhood acquaintance with Die Fledermaus, my mother’s friend was the rehearsal music director and it was his turn to baby-sit me that day. So he took me along to rehearsal. I still remember leaning against the podium, watching him conduct the orchestra by waving his stick around and, having most urgently to pee, not daring to pull on his leg and risk stopping the music.

I also had a friend tell me that as a young lady in England she heard what she called Adele’s ‘laughing song’ on the radio and decided then and there that she wanted to be an opera star. Adele, the saucy maid, changed her life, she said.

When I grew up in New York City my family subscribed to five seats at the Metropolitan Opera in the first row of the Family Circle, a most desirous spot, and of course we got to see Die Fledermaus many times. As also happened with my family someone or other could not make a performance that time so the task fell to me to canvass a bunch of people to ask if they wanted a ticket. It usually took me a week until everyone told me why they couldn’t make it and I still had the ticket(s). So I finally decided to go down to the Met on Columbus Circle and wave my ticket(s) in the air along with the scalpers. Since mine were always at cost, without tax, I usually sold them in two minutes, thus earning a nice bit of pocket money to the enormous satisfaction of my mother.

Whenever we did not have the opportunity to experience “The Fledermaus” live we could always hear this wonderful European tradition on the radio or see it on television on New Year’s Eve.

Lucille de Saint-Andre reports about film festivals, art, entertainment, museum, exhibitions & travel. She writes her own reviews. She is a successful writer with published books.

Lucille de Saint-Andre, Toronto Operetta Theatre, Guillermo Silva-Marin, Die Fledermaus, reports, film festivals, arts, entertainment, museum, exhibitions, travel. writer, published writer, reviews, published books, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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