John Austin | Kangaroo Ground, Australia | 07/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Come with me to a supper."
So sings Dr Falke to his crony Eisenstein.
And what a supper it turns out to be! Besides the champagne, the dancing and the food provided at the villa of the world-weary young Prince Orlovsky, we see Eisenstein flirting with a masked "Hungarian lady" (Eisenstein's wife in disguise), Eisenstein's maid Adele (in a ball dress filched from her mistress's wardrobe) pretending to be an actress, and Dr Falke arranging a "pay back" for Eistenstein who had recently concocted a joke by which Dr Falke had been made to sneak home, after a fancy dress ball, through the city streets dressed as a bat. Listening to the music that Johann Strauss Jnr provided for this "supper", it is hard to believe that "Die Fledermaus" was taken off after only 16 performances at its premiere Vienna season. Soon after, however, it was taken up elsewhere, notably in Hamburg where it was conducted by Mahler. Nowadays, it can be seen everywhere (often in up-dated productions), and music lovers can select from umpteen recorded versions.This one has recently gravitated to the prestigious "Great Recordings of the Century" eminence. It is one of a classic series of recordings made in the mid 1950s by the producer Walter Legge. Featuring the orchestra he created (the Philharmonia), his wife Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, and the conductor whose career he had thus far promoted (Herbert von Karajan), it still remains one of the best recommendations despite its limited monaural sound. There is verve and sparkle a-plenty, the casting is flawless, there is a strong sense of ensemble, and dialogue is included. To balance all of this, it should be mentioned that the Act II ballet music Strauss provided has been omitted (the booklet accompanying my set states that that waltz "Kunstlerleben" is interpolated in its stead, but this is not so). As has sometimes happened, the part of Orlovsky, originally for mezzo soprano, is here sung by a baritone. And it is tenor Nicolai Gedda, as Eisenstein, who takes the lead in the Act II sextet "Bruderlein, Bruderlein und Schwesterlien, instead of baritone Erich Kunz as Dr Falke. I hope there is enough here to help browsers make a choice. I should hate to be forced to choose only one recorded "Die Flederamaus", but this is certainly one that I would hate to be without. Duration: 110 minutes."
bunthorne | Bristol, UK | 03/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording dating rom 1955 is superb. It rivals many recent performances is so may ways. Although not technically high by modern standards, it is none the less great theatre and bright in sound. This is what Die Fledermaus should be. Rita Streich as Adele is superb, with inflections not even remotely achieved by any other artist, to create a character that is so believable. Elizabeth Schwartzkopf is her usual brilliant self, refined and delicious. Erich Kunz as Dr Falke (the bat) is suave and beautifully controlled. This is GREAT, without exception! Buy it."
Fledermaus With Style
Leroy I. Sykes | Flagstaff, AZ USA | 10/24/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Notwithstanding the extraordinary vocal talent that comprises this cast, Von Karajan has wed these glorious voices to the Waltz King's magnificent music and served up perhaps the finest recording of this Operetta ever made.Schwarzkopf's Rosalinde is pure elegance. Her producer-husband Walter Legge along with Karajan saw operetta as serious business, which was frequently more difficult than opera, to perform well. This operetta is performed without schmalz, overstatement or freewheeling. The Conductor/Producer interpretation was strictly adhered to allowing only minimal performer rubato. The result was an undertstated and subtle rendering that dazzles the ear and touches the soul.Schwartzkopf had done other operettas with Gedda, Streich and Kunz under the baton and genius of Otto Ackerman. This production exhibits great singers having a great time making music and enjoying one another's talent.Finally the Philharmonia Orchestra (originally created by Legge)is an orchestra of the finest caliber. It never overshadows or overpowers the singers. There are indeed other Fledermaus recordings that are superb; but this recording has a style and superiority that goes beyond excellent. It is a recording not to be missed."
What a treat!
Robert Van Winkle | Charlottesville, VA USA | 08/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not an authority on Opera but I know what I like and this CD set is great! I bought this because the gentleman above me gave it such a good review. I agree with him and if you're looking for a recording of Fledermaus... this is the one to buy. Only drawback ... it's not in stereo, but it is a digital remaster of the recording from 1955 so what can you expect? It's great and you'll love it."