Johann Strauss II's popular operetta, Die Fledermaus, returns to the Canadian Opera Company after an absence of more than 20 years with a new production this fall. Strauss II outdid his own reputation as the "waltz king" of Vienna with Die Fledermaus by composing some of opera's most enduring dance music for this hilarious comedy with its screwball plot of elaborate revenge, disguises and mistaken identity. A largely Canadian cast, led by internationally renowned tenor Michael Schade in a role debut, comes together in this new COC production by innovative director Christopher Alden with COC Music Director Johannes Debus conducting. Die Fledermaus is sung in German with English SURTITLES™ and runs for 11 performances at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 4, 9, 12, 14, 17, 20, 24, 27, 30, Nov. 1 and 3, 2012.
Known as one of the leading Mozart tenors on the stage today, internationally acclaimed Canadian singer Michael Schade branches off in a new repertoire direction with this role debut. Last with the COC in 2011's The Magic Flute, Schade returns to perform the role of Gabriel von Eisenstein, an affluent gentleman who delays serving a short prison sentence by way of a quick frolic at an extravagant party. American soprano Tamara Wilson, last with the COC in 2010's Idomeneo, returns to treat audiences to her "striking timbre" (Opera News) as Rosalinde, Eisenstein's long-suffering wife, whose disguised appearance at the same party has mischievous consequences for her husband.
Sharing the role of the saucy maid Adele are COC Ensemble Studio sopranos Ambur Braid (Oct. 4, 9, 14, 20, 27, Nov.1) and Mireille Asselin (Oct. 12, 17, 24, 30, Nov. 3). The two rising opera stars recently split the title role in a special Ensemble Studio performance of Semele with Braid singled out for her "coloratura fireworks" and Asselin praised for her "soft-grain soprano and lovely stage presence" (Opera). COC Ensemble Studio graduate tenor David Pomeroy is Rosalinde's former suitor, Alfred. He returns to the company after two recent performances in the title role of The Tales of Hoffmann for the COC as well as performances with New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera. Mezzo-soprano Laura Tucker, whose operatic engagements have taken her Seattle Opera, New York City Opera and the Spoleto and Wexford festivals since last appearing with the COC in 2004's Die Walküre, returns as Prince Orlofsky, the host of the elaborate costume party.
Current and former COC Ensemble Studio artists make up several of the operetta's comedic characters: new Ensemble Studio member soprano Claire de Sévigné makes her mainstage debut as Adele's sister, Ida; Ensemble Studio graduate baritone Peter Barrett, last with the COC in 2011's Ariadne auf Naxos, is Dr. Falke; and Ensemble Studio graduate baritone James Westman, last with the COC in 2009's Madama Butterfly, is Frank, the prison's governor.
American tenor David Cangelosi, who sang Spoletta in the COC's recent Tosca, returns as Dr. Blind, and German actor Jan Pohl is Frosch, the jailer.
Consistently committed to keeping the operatic art form challenging and vital, director Christopher Alden follows his recent company productions of The Flying Dutchman and Rigoletto with this new COC production of Die Fledermaus. Inspired by the operetta's larger questions about a society dancing on The Edge of ruin, Alden sets this production in early 20th-century Vienna. He conjures up a glamorous world bubbling with extravagance and sophisticated wit, while gently mocking the duplicity of people and the larger social hypocrisies they inhabit. He's joined by set designer Allen Moyer, most recently with the COC for Nixon in China; costume designer Constance Hoffman, last with the COC for 2002's Julius Caesar; and lighting designer Paul Palazzo, who was also with the company for its 2011 production of Nixon in China.
COC Music Director Johannes Debus leads the COC Orchestra and Chorus through a score that has come to embody high-spirited celebration since the operetta's premiere in 1874. Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus is considered a masterpiece in terms of plot and musical composition, with a use of song and spoken word that exemplifies the operetta tradition through its light subject matter and witty libretto. The music is infectious, filled with one memorable melody after another, including the famous "Fledermaus Waltz" with its lilting refrain, and the comic aria popularly known as Adele's "Laughing Song" that offers plenty of opportunity for both vocal display and coy flirtatiousness.