Johann Strauss’ popular operetta, which premiered in Vienna on April 5, 1874, and is currently in production on the Dallas Opera stage, is number 19 on Opera America’s top 20 most performed operatic works, according to Wikipedia.
The happy, bouncing overture should also be familiar to anyone who has watched pairs skating or ice dancing. I remember watching the great Russian pair Oleg and Ludmila Protopopov waltz across Olympic ice to Strauss’ score. American ice dance champions Peter Tchernyshev and Naomi Lang have also skated to “Die Fledermaus.”
“Adele’s Laughing Song,” the operetta’s most reconizable aria, was a favorite of the late Beverly Sills, and is often performed during the talent competition at the annual Miss America pageant.
After the lights went down at Sunday’s matinee, a voice in the dark gently announced that Ana Maria Martinez (Rosalinde) was recovering from a bout of the flu, and Ava Pine (Adele, the Chambermaid) was suffering from a sinus infection. Just as I was about to check my program for understudy information, the soft voice in the dark said the ladies would perform in spite of their troubles.
And perform they did. I noticed one, maybe two, little missed notes in three acts, but none was serious enough to mar the show.
While the principals of the Dallas Opera made it look easy, make no mistake: Strauss’ score is a challenge for orchestras and a marathon for singers.
Martinez is making her Dallas Opera debut, but she is no novice.
She’s had leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera and in Santa Fe. She is gifted with a brilliant, clear soprano’s voice, able to leap tall musical scores in a single bound, or so it seemed on Sunday. It doesn’t hurt that she’s delightfully pretty and seems to really enjoy what she’s doing.
Pine is a home-grown Texas treasure. She was the Dallas Opera’s first young artist in residence, singing secondary roles in all of last year’s performances.
As the comely chambermaid Adele, Pine has the opera’s big moment in Act II witht the “Laughing Song.” Singing opera requires the endurance of an athlete, the performance skills of an Academy award-winning actor and the musical technique of a maestro. In spite of the sinus infection, Pine pulled it together, and an appreciative audience embraced her for it.
Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereaux” is next up on the Dallas schedule, opening at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, 28 and 31 and a 2 p.m. matinee on Jan. 25. Call 214-443-1000 for ticket information.
See www.myssnews.com for clips of familiar music from “Die Fledermaus,” including the overture and Adele’s aria.