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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 March 2017
very good, very nice
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on 6 March 2017
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on 28 February 2009
This is one of the best versions of Die Fledermaus that I have seen. The Gaolers monologue is absoutely fantastic as well as the guests at Prince Orlovsky's Party especially the appearance of Hinge and Brackett.Kiri te Kanawa and Heramn Prey are an excellent combination. It is also very useful having the dialogue in English as opposed to German. THe Karl Bohm /Gundula Janowitz version I found a Typical Germanic version with no real gusetsDie Fledermaus [DVD] [1985] [NTSC]Die Fledermaus [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] at the party
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on 14 November 2010
I saw this lavish production when originally shown on BBC Television one New Year's Eve over 25 years ago and thought it was absolutely charming and delightful. I was so pleased that it is now available on DVD and have had great pleasure in watching it recently and will be doing so again and again in the future. A wonderful evening's entertainment.

The inclusion in the party scene of the ballet and of Hinge and Bracket both worked well as they fitted in with the period atmosphere of the piece but I did think that Charles Aznavour singing "She" was somewhat out of place. This gave the impression that the producers were trying to turn the party into an edition of the Royal Variety Show by slipping in a current singing star without giving thought as to what entertainment might reasonably have been provided at a party of the period.

Some of your reviewers have referred to the mixture of languages in the spoken dialogue as being distracting. I agree that at times this seemed surprising and a little confusing but, after all, this was a New Year's Eve performance with international opera stars and was meant to be fun which it certainly was.
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Johan Strauss II didn't get his reputation as Vienna's Waltz King for sitting around eating strudel mit shlag. He wrote glorious melodies...waltzes, polkas, mazurkas...that set people to dancing and smiling. His music still does.

Die Fledermaus is a Viennese fable of lechery, love, revenge and romance, of beautiful wives, juicy maids, amorous husbands, clever friends, a mysterious count and a drunken jailer, of white tie and tails, beautiful gowns, a gold watch and lots of champagne. Most of all, it is a light-hearted and mischievous story that features some of Strauss' most romantic and bubbling music which just washes over the audience. The story is too comically complicated to go into. Just remember that it's all about a bit of revenge for a practical joke played by one friend on another a year earlier. In Act One we're at the home of Gabriel von Eisenstein (Herman Prey), who is about to spend eight days in jail for an indiscretion. But his good friend, Dr. Falke (Benjamin Luxon), convinces him to delay the trip to the jail until the next day, so that the two can go to a magnificent dinner party, without telling Eisenstein's beautiful wife, Rosalinda (Kiri Te Kanawa), held by the mysterious Russian nobleman, Count Orlofsky (Doris Soffel). Ah, but then the plot thickens. Through clever stratagems, invitations have also secretly arrived for Rosalinda, who is to go in disguise so she can see for herself her husband's amorous ways, and for Roslinda's maid, Adele (Hildegard Heichele). All that follows is a story of mistaken identities, beautiful songs and, eventually, happy endings.

What makes this particular production at Britain's Royal Opera House so effective is that it's not only sung superbly, it's not only sumptuously mounted, but it's funny. The dialogue is spoken in a mixture of German, French, English and Italian in an amusing play on the characters' nationalities, but also on the nationalities of the singers. And the singers are not only in great voice but are seeming to take great delight in playing the characters. All of them, especially Herman Prey and Benjamin Luxon, appear to be having the times of their lives. Their good spirits are as infectious as the music they sing.

It's traditional for the party at the Count's to be interrupted by special surprise guest performers. Making appearances are Charles Azvanour, ballet stars Merle Park and Wayne Eagling in a stunning pax de deux choreographed by Frederick Ashton, and two genteel English ladies, Dame Hilda Bracket (who sings) and Dr. Evadne Hinge (who accompanies on piano). If you didn't know they were really...well, see for yourself. To fully appreciate them, you'll need to use Google. Joseph Meinraad plays the 3rd act non-singing drunken jailer, Frosch, who has several comic moments bantering with the conductor, Placido Domingo.

This is a filmed record of the performance. Clear subtitles are available and are probably recommended if you're not already familiar with the story and the songs. The only drawback is the quality of the DVD. It's not really bad, but is about at the level of a middling VHS tape.
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on 19 January 2013
Being an opera lover this was unic piece of operette with quality and taste. The casting was master level and my all time favorite Dame Kiri Te Kanava as Rosalinde. Hildegard Heichele is also a unic soprano with a happy warm tone. Directing was masterfull. I will wach it every new year and of course with champagne. It was thanks to you tube i found this perfomance. Thank you that you had it.
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on 26 July 2014
This is an excellent production of Die Fledermaus. Singing, staging, costumes, everything was top quality. This is an opera which is timeless and can be watched often. Highly recommended.

Also, the product arrived quickly after order.
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on 1 August 2016
If you are looking for a crisp clear picture then this is not for you, it is 1984 and I appraise on the quality of production from that time.
The opening set of Eisenstein house is excellent, as good as any, and I have six versions.
Dennis O'Neille is the opening voice, and is a great Alfredo, with some extra muscal quotations thrown in.
Hildegard Heichele is a mellow soprano and acts her part with enthusiasm.
Kiri Te Kanawa is of course in fine form as Rosalinde, love her to bits.
I have seen Hermann Prey in a number of comic roles and he always surpasses the norm, and his voice is excellent.
I am also a great fan of Benjamin Luxon, I have seen him in concert some years ago, He can hold an audience in the palm of his hand, he has a fine baritone ideally suited to light comedy. Please note I am biased
The sleeve notes are rather limited, with no extra insert, so for full cast listing, refer to the disc.
One interest feature is that it is sung in its original language, but a fair bit of dialogue is in English, a feature that works well. Subtitles are available when require
Michael Langdon is Colonel Frank, he may not have much of a singing voice but plays a jolly good part.
Prince Orlofsky is Doris Soffel, her/his voice really strikes a chord with me, her mezzo is superb, it has an edge which brings tears to my eyes.
The set for act two has a central balcony, with side staircases, and backdrop rich curtains in blue.
Heichelle does a very good job of the laughing song something of a highlight.
Rosalinde countess costume in black with red trimmings and a black wig is quite stunning.
A nice touch for the Hungarian song sequence is the musicians on stage.
In Brudelein, Luxon displays his mellow baritone to delight the ear, followed by an equally delightful chorus.
As an additional entertainment, there are ballets, excerpt from Gypsy Baron, Hinge and Bracket and Charles Aznavour.
Meanwhile back at the plot, dawn approaches!
In act three the Prison Governors office is suitably dowdy and badly furnished.
The Frosch sketch is mildly amusing. Franke also has a few good comic moments and one good low note.
Olga in her aria, displays her vocal and acting talents to Franke with great effect.
As it should be all ends happily with the blame on champagne.
I rest my case.
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on 8 March 2013
It was fun to watch and listen to.
The crew is superb, Kiri is funny and just Frosh, I think he has outdone himself.
I highly recommend it to people who are new to this kind of music.
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on 25 August 2010
Live 1983 performance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London.

Reasonably good stereo. The singing of the soloists is generally well caught, the orchestra and chorus slightly less so. Some dialogue fades occasionally, but that may be due to the performers as much as the sound pick-up.

Gabriel von Eisenstein, a prosperous Viennese gentlemen with a roving eye - Hermann Prey (baritone)
Rosalinde, his wife - Tiri Te Kanawa (soprano)
Alfred, Rosalinde's would-be lover - Dennis O'Neill (tenor)
Adele, Rosalinde's maid - Hildegarde Heichele (soprano)
Dr. Falke, Eisenstein's good friend but also the victim of one of his practical jokes - Benjamin Luxon (baritone)Herr Frank, Governor of the City Prison - Michael Langdon (baritone)
Prince Orlowsky, a jaded and bored visiting aristocrat - Doris Soffel (mezzo-soprano)
Dr. Blind, Eisenstein's lawyer - Paul Crook (tenor)
Ida, Adele's sister - Ingrid Baier (speaker)
Frosch, a jailer - Josef Meinrad (speaker)

Placido Domingo with the Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus, Covent Garden.

The lyrics are sung in a German not heavily burdened with Viennese lilt. Spoken dialogue veers wildly from one language to another.

The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is a very large theater with a big stage. The settings are of necessity of large scale. This makes Eisenstein's residence, which ought to be the well-appointed townhouse of a prosperous but nevertheless middle-class Viennese banker who keeps only a single servant, seem out of scale. The ballroom set for the second act and the jail in the third are serviceable. The costumes are generic, late 19th Century, but attractive and appropriate.

Overall, the stage blocking is quite traditional, even sensible, leading one to make wild speculations about the director having actually read the libretto before staging the piece, improbable as that seems. The decision to sing in German and speak the dialogue in polyglot form is a questionable one, probably deserving, I imagine, about equal quantities of praise and disdain.

The roots of Johann Strauss II's "Die Fledermaus" stretch back to an 1851 German farce by Robert Benedix, "Die Gefängnis" ("The Prison"). In 1872, that admirable pair of hacks, Meilhac and Halévy, cobblers of libretti for both Offenbach and Bizet, converted the old German play into a French vaudeville called "Le réveillon" ("The Revel" or perhaps "The Christmas Eve Party"). In 1873-4, the French text was re-translated back into German for Strauss to set to music, but with all references to Christmas carefully expunged as a sop to respectable Viennese sensibilities. Oddly enough, the one-time Christmas Eve tale that premiered not far away from Easter in 1874 has taken firm root in Austria and elsewhere as a New Year's Eve entertainment.

If there exists a poor sound recording of "Die Fledermaus," I have never encountered it. Each major recording has its unique merits and its champions. Choosing the best among them is simply an exercise in expressing personal taste. "Chacun," as we are wisely advised, "à son goût." Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all the DVD outings of "Die Fledermaus" (and especially not for two recent outright horrors from Salzburg and Glyndebourne, respectively.) Let me now hasten to allay fears by assuring you that this DVD "Fledermaus" is a good one. Many, including the Good Grey Gramophone Magazine, regard it as a very, very good one.

The cast is a generally sound one, and everyone (but Heichele) seems to be having an infectiously good time, especially Domingo, conducting in the pit. They are OK, but neither Te Kanawa nor Heichele would be my first choice for Rosalinde and Adele, respectively (nor, indeed, my twenty-first choice, if it came to that.) Hermann Prey is a sprightly Eisenstein, although perhaps a bit too old and stolid-looking to make Eisenstein's shenanigans entirely convincing. Eisenstein is a low-lying tenor part or a high-flying baritone role. I prefer a character tenor as Eisenstein, especially in Act II where he will be the only tenor voice. Dennis O'Neill sings pretty well as Alfred, here translated into Alfredo. Benjamin Luxon, oddly enough for an operatic baritone, is adequate while singing but notably better in speaking the dialogue. Doris Soffel, is a tall, splendidly epicene figure as Prince Orlowsky. Soffel, a very fine and well-known mezzo-soprano, here sounds very soprano-ish. Had I been given the choice, I'd have cast her as Adele and cast Heichele, if I had to use her at all, as Orlowsky.

While the performance is enjoyable enough the first time through, there are problems that emerge on subsequent viewings. The choice of having characters speak in different languages to one another--Te Kanawa in English to Dr. Falke but in German to Eisenstein and Adele, for instance--gets real tired real fast. The part of Alfred was intended for a Viennese tenor--imagine the young Richard Tauber. Strauss wrote appropriately Viennese music for him. Performance tradition, however, has turned Alfred into a caricature of an Italian tenor, Alfredo, and interpolated all kinds of tags and snatches from Puccini and Verdi. Here, they have gone one step further and made him speak in Italian--hardly the native tongue of a Dennis O'Neill, I fancy. It's a wearisome conceit. (When they extend the idea to make Eisenstein emulate Wotan when he bids "farewell" to Rosalinde, it's really just too much!) Even more wearisome is the "gala" in which outside performers offer a mixed bag of turns during Orlowsky's ball ... amusing once, increasingly tedious thereafter.

Finally, there is the matter of Domingo's conducting. The Good Grey Gramophone calls it "stiff." Since the Royal Opera House Orchestra is manifestly not a Viennese band, I'll give Domingo a pass on that point. On the other hand, he seems to me to be a little over-indulgent on making comedic points at cost to the essential snap and crackle of Strauss' champagne-soaked score.

Compared to the overall enjoyability of the show, my negative comments count as relatively minor. You can certainly do worse--much worse--than acquire this particular version of "Die Fledermaus."

Four stars.
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