Review Roundup: The Met's DIE FLEDERMAUS
A new production of Johann Strauss Jr.'s New Year's Eve classic, the comedic operetta Die Fledermaus, opened at the Met on December 31, starring Broadway performers, Danny Burstein and Betsy Wolfe as the drunken jailer, Frosch, and Adele's sister, Ida, respectively.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Zachary Woolfe of the NY Times says: Jeremy Sams, who in 2011 wrote the script for "The Enchanted Island," the Met's Baroque pastiche, once again provided insistently cutesy, rhyming English-language lyrics, à la "You'd better go, you'd better go, you are decidedly de trop." He handled the sung text and directed the production, and the playwright Douglas Carter Beane ("The Little Dog Laughed," "The Nance") provided the extensive spoken dialogue....But if the shtick is mostly schlock, at least the visuals are stylish. The updating has given the set designer, Robert Jones, license to create some intoxicating fin-de-siècle images, from a ballroom capped by an enormous inverted version of the gold-leaf dome ofVienna's Secession building to a boldly outlined Wiener Werkstätte-ish jail.
James Barron of the NY Times says: I was ready to end 2013 by looking in on a fancy New Year's Eve party that was supposed to be unfolding in fin de siècle Vienna. The invitation was right there on a curtain that went up at the opening performance of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of "Die Fledermaus." But when the conductor walked into the pit and bowed, I was transported not to Vienna in 1899, but to Michigan in 1985.
Martin Bernheimer of the Financial Times says: Johann Strauss's operetta may masquerade as fun, but it is musically demanding, dramatically sophisticated, predicated on elegance and wit, irony and charm. One could hardly have guessed this, given the lavish yet clunky version concocted by Jeremy Sams. Bearing his own cutesy-rhymed lyrics, he makes Fledermausa trial in which everyone constantly mugs, prances, struts, kicks and talks, talks, talks. The talking entails inane dialogue inserted by Douglas Carter Beane. The marathon finished, not incidentally, 25 minutes behind schedule.
David Patrick Stearns of Operavore says: Much essence was lost. One never really knows what makes a masterwork durable until those qualities fade. Springing to life one minute, dead on arrival at others, this confounding Fledermaus bounced between good theatrical sense and none at all. Put it this way: In operetta (as in film noir), characters are creatures of impulse, not psychology. Giving them stronger reasons for being - and more spoken dialogue at a house as large as the Met - taxed the overall pacing and left the operetta sprawling over a four-hour time period. As with The Enchanted Island, Sams seemed not to know when to stop, what to edit or how to best use the expansive Metropolitan Opera house.