The Lamont School of Music is known for its operatic talent, and this year’s production of “Die Fledermaus,” which ran from April 20-23 at the Newman Center, wasn’t any different. The music of “Die Fledermaus” was composed by Austrian Johann Strauss with the original German libretto by Carl Haffner and Richard Genée. However, Lamont’s student production was performed in English.
“Die Fledermaus,” or “The Bat,” is a farcica comedy surrounding the antics of Falke (Jared Giammanco or Matthew Peterson) as he sets up an elaborate prank as revenge against a prank his friend Eisenstein (Yuelong Liang or Chad Rendon-Thofson) played a few years ago. The prank is set for the night before Eisenstein must report to jail. The result is three hours of mistaken identity, minor blackmail and ultimately happy endings for all. Whether or not they stand up to twenty-first century feminist ideals is another story, but while it was a long three hours, it was an enjoyable three hours.
The opera relies heavily on physical comedy, perhaps done the best by Adele (Christiana McMullen or Chloe Scull), a chambermaid and aspiring actress. Played by McMullen on Thursday night, she threw herself around the stage and wailed with all the pent-up energy of a wannabe actress trapped as a chambermaid. However, McMullen avoids painting Adele entirely as a caricature of herself to the credit of a character who ends up being wily enough to get herself an acting scholarship by the end of the show.
While he only appears in the third act, Frosch the jailer (Ahmed Omar) spent the entire act drunkenly staggering around the stage to the great delight of the audience. His overly physical representation of waking up the next morning still drunk is the perfect representation of all of the other characters’ confusion as they slowly put together the pieces of Falke’s prank.
The libretto of course supplies much of the comedy, as it pokes fun at the opera—“Die Fledermaus” and the institution—as well as the aristocratic class, mostly done through Eisenstein and his wife Rosalinde (Caren Rico or Corinne Denny), who are distraught that Eisenstein will be in jail for a whole eight days. At least, Rosalinde is distraught until she discovers that her former paramour Alfred (Matthew Rumsey or Johnathan Rhodes) is in town and that Eisenstein is a philanderer.
Rounding out the starring cast is Prince Orlofsky, a trouser role played by either Jenna Clark or Melissa Sells, who is an awkward, disgustingly wealthy Russian prince whose dry humor balances out the rest of the opera, Blind (Nicholas Lunagphithack or Welly Disayanon), Eisenstein’s stuttering lawyer, Ida (Nicole London or Madison Hall) and Frank (William Barksdale or Zachary McCulley), the unfortunate prison director.
Overall, there is rarely a sour note from the cast or the orchestra, making “Die Fledermaus” another operatic success for the school of music. The opera is Lamont’s last major performance of the year, but student recitals are occurring throughout the rest of April and May.