By Brooke McAfee
The Jacobs School of Music’s production is set in Imperial Hotel in Vienna in the 1920s, where a masquerade brings the main characters together in a comedy full of deception, disguise and revenge.
“Die Fledermaus” opens at 7:30 p.m. today and runs November 14, 19 and 20 in the MAC.
The story centers around Dr. Falke, also known as Dr. Fledermaus, who takes revenge on his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein for playing a humiliating practical joke on Falke two years earlier. It also involves Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinda, her former lover, Alfred, and their maid, Adele, who interact in various subplots.
This is a relatively new production, said stage director Robin Guarino — the original operetta premiered in 1874, but this is an updated version. It highlights the role of women during the time period between the World Wars.The story is witty and ironic, Guarino said.
“It hones in on this situation of women and what the possibilities are for them as individuals,” Guarino said. “It’s right when things are about to explode out into the Roaring Twenties, so you feel that the world is not what it once was, yet the opportunities for women are still very limited.”
Bille Bruley, a second-year graduate student in the music school who plays the role of Eisenstein in one of the casts, said the operetta is more accessible because it combines English dialogue with German singing.
However, he said he wants to make sure the audience easily understands the story and its humor while the cast is singing.
“We have supertitles above the stage of the English translations of what we’re saying, but you do not want your audience to be glued to that,” Bruley said. “Music, no matter what the language is, should be able to convey a story to your audience.”
Bruley said his character is a notorious ladies’ man and a charmer who is used to getting his way. He said the operetta is both challenging and rewarding and he enjoys interacting with the cast on the stage.
First-year master’s student Rebekah Howell plays the role of Adele in one cast. Her character is a spunky chambermaid who aspires to be an actress.
“She gets to be sassy and fabulous,” Howell said.
Howell said it has been exciting to work with the artistic team.
Conductor Arthur Fagen said the experience of working on the production has been gratifying. The plot is entertaining because of the disguises and mistaken identities and he finds Strauss’ music to be elegant and beautiful, he said.
“It can be exciting, but it can also have a touch of melancholy,” Fagen said. “It encompasses a lot in a fairly light genre.”
Guarino said the music, which is filled with Viennese waltzes, requires an amazing sense of style to give it the spirit and effervescence it needs.
That means the musicians have to pay close attention to details and give a nuanced and clear performance, Guarino said.
“You can’t overplay it,” Guarino said. “It takes a very light touch.”
© Indiana Daily Student 2015