Review: Die Fledermaus at the Met
A wave of trepidation slowly overcame the audience of the Met's December 4th performance of Die Fledermaus, as people opened their playbills and read the insert that said Mireille Asselin would be on for Lucy Crowe, who was ill, in the pivotal role of Adele. Fortunately, the immensely charming Asselin displayed no signs of nervousness at having to command the gargantuan Met stage. She has a beautiful voice that suits Adele nicely. It should be noted that a cover being a highlight of the evening is not unlike a chambermaid becoming the sensation of the New Year's Eve party at the center of the story.
Jeremy Sams' production of Johann Strauss Jr's classic operetta bursts with an energy appropriate for the joyous music played expertly by the Met orchestra. Susanna Phillips, who sang the role of Rosalinde, has a lovely singing voice, but her delivery of lines of dialogue left something to be desired. Christopher Fitzgerald gets a lot of laughs as Frosch the jailer, even if his third act scene drags on for too long. Paulo Szot made for a strong Doctor Falke, and the hammy Dimitri Pittas did not disappoint as Alfred. Toby Spence was fine as Eisenstein. Susan Graham's Orlofsky unfortunately was a bit a of let down.
The sets and costumes by Robert Jones use rich colors to create a sumptuous visual representation of 1899 Vienna, reminiscent of a Klimt painting. Conductor James Levine has the orchestra playing with an energetic vitality. The revised libretto by Douglas Carter Beane was the weakest part of the production, rushing through most of the action and lingering on the comedic bits. This is not entirely unsurprising, as this is the same Douglas Carter Beane responsible for the perplexing book to the 2013 Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, bizarre political subplots and all. The translation of the lyrics to English are not always as smooth as one would hope, as awkward phrases occasionally inhibit the inherent giddiness of the music.
While the evening as a whole was enormously enjoyable, a tighter libretto would undoubtably elevate this innuendo-laden farce to a operetta on par with Strauss' unabashedly blissful music.