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Work of the Week – Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus

On 21 October, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) will stage their first complete operetta at the Lee Foundation Theatre in celebration of their 80th anniversary. The operetta is Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, which will be directed by David Edwards and conducted by Lim Yau, with a cast and orchestra made up of students, teachers and alumni of NAFA. The operetta will be sung in German, with spoken dialogue in English and Mandarin.

NAFA are using the New Johann Strauss Complete Edition of Die Fledermaus which has been edited by Michael Rot to provide a more complete and reliable copy of the score. Unlike other editions, it includes the finales for the first and third act and the opening of the second act, as intended by Strauss. The new edition also builds on previous editions with corrections in phrasing, tempo and dynamics, as well as in the sung melodies and instrumentation, and misunderstood text passages are amended. The new edition thus enhances the original by clarifying uncertainties and bringing the operetta’s musical contours into superior focus.

Johann Strauss – Die Fledermaus: from Vienna to Singapore

NAFA’s production of Die Fledermaus transports the operetta in present-day Singapore, where the wealthy art dealer Gabriel von Eisenstein comes into conflict with the law and is sentenced to prison. Eisenstein bids farewell to his wife Rosalinde and the housemaid Adele as he leaves for prison, but then decides to evade jail for one night so that he can attend Prince Orlofsky’s lavish party with his friend Dr Falke.  Adele and Rosalinde also head to Prince Orlofsky’s party on Dr Falke’s invitation, but in disguise as an actress and a Countess. At the party, Eisenstein flirts with the disguised Rosalinde, trying to convince her to share her real identity. After much frivolity, the following morning comes with the revelation that it was all a joke orchestrated by Dr. Falke.

Perhaps Die Fledermaus is a masterpiece precisely because the music functions as a dramaturgical hub and thus forms an inseparable unity with the text, where each one first learns its identity in the mirror of the other. – Michael Rot

NAFA will stage two repeat performances on 22 and 23 October, and two further productions of the New Johann Strauss Complete Edition of Die Fledermaus will be presented this year on 10 November by Theater Freiburg and 21 December by Opéra de Lausanne.


©  Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts