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Santa Fe Opera Opens 2017 Season With Snap, Crackle And Pop

on July 7, 2017 - 8:45am

Prince Orlovsky (Susan Graham) and Dr. Falke (Joshua Hopkins). Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2017

Adele (Jane Archibald) and the Santa Fe Opera Chorus. Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2017

Los Alamos

With a drum roll from the pit, the audience rose as one and Maestro Nicholas Carter led the orchestra and more than 2000 voices in the National Anthem. Then began the overture for Johann Stauss’ Die Fledermaus which the “Waltz King” loaded with highlights of the musical numbers from his most successful operetta.

The essence of the story is the notary Dr. Falke, still smarting from the schadenfreude (pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune) of his friend Gabriel von Prince Orlovsky (Susan Graham) and Dr. Falke (Joshua Hopkins). Eisenstein, is out for revenge. Years earlier they left a party inebriated, Eisenstein as a butterfly and Falke as a bat. The next day Falke’s clients saw him still in costume stretched out on a bench. Eisenstein still remembers with joy the pain Falke felt, and so Falke is planning revenge by way of a tit for tat schadenfreude. The Russian Prince Orlofsky, renowned for throwing extravagant parties, will be instrumental in carrying out his scheme.

Allen Moyer’s clever sets include a suspended bat upstage with a 20-foot wingspan which contributes to the zany mayhem throughout all 3 acts. The Act 1 set is the Eisenstein’s apartment presented as 6 free standing sets of doors and no walls. It is a wonderful way for the audience to observe each of the characters which often aren’t aware of the presence of others. We are quickly introduced to Alfred, a singing teacher who loves Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinda, and Adele, Rosalinda’s maid, and Dr. Blind, Eisenstein’s attorney. Dimitri Pittas, a former apprentice who made his company debut in 2006 has returned as the very troublesome Alfred, and carries off the role with aplomb in Acts 1 and 3. Jane Archibald in her company debut is the maid Adele, and outstanding vocally in Act 2 with her Laughing song, and again in Act 3 as she demonstrates her skills as an actress.

Devon Guthrie, a former apprentice who made her company debut in 2014, is Rosalinda, the central figure of the opera and remarkable throughout, and especially in Act 2 as a Hungarian countess. The elaborate scheme put into action by Dr. Falke has four of the characters appearing in Act 2 with nom de guerre identities to confuse the target victim, Eisenstein.

When the masked Rosalinda is challenged to confirm being Hungarian she responds with the famous czardas aria. The maid Adele appears as the actress Olga, and to make the spoken gags especially zany, Eisenstein becomes Marquis Renard, and Frank, the prison warden, becomes Chevalier Chagrin. David Govertson, a former apprentice who made his company debut in 2014 is brilliant both sober when he arrests Alfred in Act 1, thinking he’s Eisenstein, and soused in the other acts.

Longtime favorite of audiences in Santa Fe and around the world is Susan Graham, visually unrecognizable as Prince Orlofsky, and none could be better delivering her/his welcoming number incorporating the French expression “Chacun a son gout”, and later in Act 2 with the Champagne song. Following the latter, the chorus (of apprentices) really get into it with the canon about brothers and sisters, one of the sweetest numbers in the opera. The walls of Act 2 allow the partiers places of meeting one another in seclusion.

Act 3 is in the jail and begins with the first appearance of Kevin Burdette, who has delighted Santa Fe audiences since appearing as Mr. Scattergood in “The Last Savage” in 2011. He delivers the sort of physical comedy that originated as part of the Commedia dell’arte in the spoken role of the very drunken jailer Frosch. Ned Canty, the Director was concerned that with so many comical elements in the opera that the audience could be stupefied by the end. Kevin Burdette is the reliable comic to keep us laughing.

In this season of the world premiere of an opera about the inventor of the iPhone where the myriad moving parts have to be so well engineered to produce fantastic results, Ned Canty and his production team, including the incomparable Choreographer Sean Curran, have produced a Die Fledermaus of snap, crackle and pop that will amaze us with every performance we attend. Popping a few corks with friends in the redesigned main parking lot beforehand, and at other times during the evening may put you in jeopardy of a schadenfreude, so beware.

Strauss has given us a night at the opera that is loaded with music that will challenge and probably obliterate any boredom, and the Santa Fe Opera production of Die Fledermaus will give you memories to cherish for years to come.

Such memories began for me in Covent Garden 27 years ago, and will be burnished when I return to this production Saturday night.


Ida (Adelaide Boedecker), Dr. Falke (Joshua Hopkins), and Adele (Jane Archibald). Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2017

Froshe (Kevin Burdette), Gabriel Von Eisenstein (Kurt Streit), and Rosalinda (Devon Guthrie). Photo by Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera, 2017