TITLE: Die Fledermaus.
ARTIST: Opera Della Luna.
REVIEW BY: Chris Robins.
NOW we know why Johann Strauss’s operetta Die Fledermaus – in most productions no more than a charming but vacuous piece of froth – was taken seriously by heavyweights such as Wagner, Mahler and Schoenberg.
Jeff Clarke’s new English language version sets the piece as a modern burlesque of dodgy characters, exposing the lies, greed, self-delusions and sexual ambitions that most of humanity is prone to.
It does so with an affection for us benighted humans that avoids moralising or point-scoring and it is also side-splittingly funny.
Make no mistake, Jeff Clarke is telling us that Die Fledermaus stands with Mozart’s operas in the league of artistic significance.
Clarke’s production is full of wonderful devices but, for me, the most fascinating is his use of some of Strauss’s original languages as a psychological revealer and concealer.
What masterstrokes, for example, to leave the Czardas in Hungarian and the opening phrase of Brüderlein und Schwesterlein in German.
For Die Fledermaus, Clarke’s Opera Della Luna are an ingenious ensemble company of eight consummate opera singers/physical theatre exponents/comic actors.
All were equally brilliant to the point of perfection and delivered a richly satisfying evening of music-theatre, in which vocal accomplishment was never compromised.
The star, however, is the unassuming Jeff Clarke, a deus ex machina as deviser, stage director and musical director.