Gary Thor Wedow enjoys a wonderfully eclectic repertoire that ranges from early music to fresh off the press. A faculty member at the Juilliard School of Music, he balances teaching with opera and choral engagements. This month, he conducts the Virginia Opera’s production of “Die Fledermaus,” performed at its Norfolk, Richmond and Fairfax venues.
Opera fans are in for a real treat this weekend when the Virginia Opera performs “Die Fledermaus” (The Bat) at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2.
In her program notes for “Die Fledermaus,” director Dorothy Danner compares the giddy goings-on in Johann Strauss II’s perennially popular 1874 operetta to “dancing on the deck of the Titanic.”
“Die Fledermaus,” the operetta by Johann Strauss II, began its long life as a satirical celebration of the flirtatious, wine-soaked, waltz-timed frivolity of late 19th-century Habsburg Vienna. That world and its manners and mores are so long-gone that what was satire now comes across as situation comedy.
Just as daylight saving time went off and left us in the dark, and grim superstorm damage led the news for days, Virginia Opera brought us the welcome lightness and good cheer of their current production of Die Fledermaus at the Harrison Opera House November 10. It really is not to be missed!
Start out right, with Die Fledermaus, as produced by the Virginia Opera. Light hearted, free-wheeling and fast paced, under the stage direction of reliably inventive Dorothy Danner, with music by the waltz king Johann Strauss II, Die Fledermaus should be the perfect first opera for folks who have never attended one.
Saturday evening, the Virginia Opera brought back to the Harrison Opera House one of the most popular operettas, “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II. With all singing and dialogue in English, the large audience could follow every detail of the comical text.
It’s late 19th century Vienna, the home of Gabriel Von Eisenstein, a wealthy man about town, who loves a good practical joke, even if it humiliates a friend. But what happens when that friend hatches an elaborate scheme to teach the womanizing Von Eisenstein a lesson he won’t soon forget? The answer is revealed in the grandest masked ball of the season, where the champagne flows freely and identity is obscured!
Georges Bizet’s classic tale of forbidden love unfolds on an island fishing village, cloaked in mystique. Pearl fishermen Zurga and Nadir, are old friends who swore an oath to never pursue the beautiful Leila, with whom they are both in love. In preparation for a fishing trip, an anonymous veiled virgin arrives to pray for the fleet’s safety. When the two men learn of the virgin’s true identity, they become locked in a bitter love triangle that tests the bonds of friendship and loyalty.
Dorothy Danner has never been one to rest on her laurels. In 2003 she served as stage director for a well-received production of “Die Fledermaus” at Virginia Opera. This weekend, the company is bringing back the light-hearted Strauss operetta, with Danner again serving as director.