VLOC's 'Fledermaus' bubbles
Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus" ("The Bat") is delicious, full of familiar and tuneful music and so enhanced by the effervescence of champagne that the urge to sing along is almost irresistible. True to this spirit, the players in the Victorian Lyric Opera Company's current production of this rollicking farce (their third non-Gilbert & Sullivan piece) have a great time. Indeed, the lively chorus was in top form.
The action begins as Alfred enters through a window to try his luck with his old flame. Philip Bender has lots of fun with this role using his strong, well placed voice to navigate easily through the first few bars of just about every major tenor aria in the repertoire. He tops it off with a hilarious stereotype of the hot Italian lover.
Rosalinda, the object of Alfred's ardor, is now married and respectable, or so we would believe listening to Adina Kazyak-Ordonez's finely-balanced, melodious soprano. Her strong and solid vocal line belies a lady all aflutter and makes her surrender even more amusing. Paul McIlvaine's firm, fluid tenor enables him to comfortably take on the role of Rosalinda's husband Eisenstein, the respectable businessman who must spend a few days in jail for losing his temper in public.
The sweet, lilting tones of Amanda Louise Perry are ideal for Adele, the saucy chambermaid. The "show stopper" of the opera is the "Laughing Song" in which she convinces the crowd that no one with her charm, wit, and vocal range could possibly be a lowly domestic!
The entire second act is a big party, thrown by Prince Orlofsky (a trouser role). Melissa Unkel's soft, mellow mezzo voice is a bit too lovely to convey this royal's ennui. Douglas Walter aptly plays Falke, the butt of one of Eisenstein's previous practical jokes, who organizes his revenge by cajoling all the principals to take on different identities for one wild night on the town.
Eisenstein as a Marquis befriends his future keeper, the Prison Warden who has transformed into a Chevalier. Julio Martinez sings the role of this jolly fellow with zest and style. Rosalinda dons a mask to become a mysterious Hungarian countess and seduce all with a haunting song from her homeland. The only sour note here is the addition of a "recital" by some chorus and orchestra members which, while pleasant, shuts down the production's flow like recorking a champagne bottle.
The masqueraders are all exposed the next morning at the jail. While the warden has been liberally imbibing at Orlofsky's, Frosh, the jailer has also been partying. Ira Haber plays this non-singing role with just the right amount of excess. Martinez and Haber play off each other famously with plenty of slapstick.
Of course, all ends well and happily for everyone, including the audience which finds a merry diversion with this light-hearted production.
"Die Fledermaus" continues in the Fitzgerald Theatre, 603 Edmonston Drive in Rockville's Civic Center Park, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 26. Call 301-879-0220.
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