Julia Varady and Lucia Popp really are the dream team for this lovely operetta. Popp’s “Mein Herr Marquis” is divine and Varady matches her with a dazzling Csardas. Even those opera buffs who normally turn their noses up at this repertoire could hardly fail to be bowled over by such fine artistry. The men are very good too, and Carlos Kleiber brings more fizz to the score than a truckload of champagne. He fair motors along, but being lively is all to the good – Die Fledermaus isn’t Parsifal after all!
So this should therefore be a whole-hearted recommendation, BUT:
Iwan Rebroff’s Orlofsky is described by some reviewers as an acquired taste. Well, good luck to those who acquire it. He sings the entire role in falsetto, and sounds like Dame Edna Everage without being as funny (or as musical, dare I say?). This sort of thing may have a place in a live performance where the emphasis is on entertainment rather than musical brilliance, but on a flagship recording intended for repeated listening it is irritating and unpleasant, and I can’t deny that to some extent it mars the enjoyment of an otherwise wonderful performance.
It would be a great shame to miss out on this excellent recording on account of one dreadful bit of miscasting. Very sensibly DG arrange the cue points so that if you wish, it’s possible to skip the dialogue and listen to just the music – and with a bit more judicious use of the skip button you can avoid the worst of Rebroff’s contributions and enjoy the superb performances of the rest of the cast, orchestra and conductor.
Hugely enjoyable performance which deserves the acclaim it has received and although at times I feel that Kleiber's dynamic reading could afford to relax a little more it is a fizzing account of the score, well characterised and superbly sung. It joins the Karajan VPO Decca recording for me as one of the most memorable readings!
After hunting around the world for a great version of Die Fledermaus. It was found with this purchase. It happens to be my only German language opera cd, but it doesn't matter any bit. The quality and intensity of the singers is magnificent. This 2 disk set is the best there is!
Even people who do not regularly listen to classical music probably recognise the overture to "Fledermaus", because it has been (over)used for commercial purposes, as have many great pieces of music. The entire operetta, however, is a gem of music writing and a wonderful story about friskiness, cheating and love. I cannot recommend it more highly.
I have listened to this operette many times and it is always a great pleasure. The singing is excellente. Although there has been some critics according the performance of Iwan Rebroff, I find his interpretation of the character of Prinz Orlofsky very amusing and piquant. He does it very well. I can only recommend this production.