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For the week of September 20 through 26, 2000

Opera in the valley

The Western Opera Theater brings Die Fledermaus to Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Believe it or not, professional opera is about to descend upon the Wood River Valley. Yes, opera. We have a top-rate writers’ conference, summer symphony, art galleries, and film festivals. Why not opera? That was precisely the attitude of the organizers of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony when they arranged for the Western Opera Theater to bring its production of Johann Strauss Jr.’s Die Fledermaus to Wood River High School tomorrow night.

The free performance is part of a 15-state, nationwide tour that the Western Opera Theater, the professional touring company of the San Francisco Opera, is conducting through Nov. 12. The fully staged and costumed production features an international cast. Die Fledermaus will be sung in English with English supertitles. The show is directed by Josemaria Condemi. Mark Morash and Steven Osgood are the conductors.

Since its April 5, 1874 premiere in Vienna, Die Fledermaus has been a popular comedy operetta with lively dance music. It is the story of Eisenstein, a bourgeois citizen, who is sentenced to prison because of a legal error by his lawyer. Alfred, the former lover of Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinda, decides to rekindle the affair knowing that Eisenstein will soon be in prison. Meanwhile, Eisenstein’s friend, Falke, comes dressed as a bat and whisks Eisenstein off to a final masquerade party prior to his imprisonment.

When Alfred arrives at Eisenstein’s home to call on Rosalinda, he is mistaken for Eisenstein and taken off to prison. At the ball, Eisenstein flirts with and is seduced by a Hungarian countess who happens to be his wife in disguise. Later, when Eisenstein finally reports to jail, he finds his wife and Alfred already there. The two Eisensteins recognize their mutual deceits and all is quickly forgiven and blamed on the ever-flowing champagne.

In a review of the Die Fledermaus 2000 tour, the San Francisco Classical Voice wrote of the production: "The joy of ‘Die Fledermaus’ is its fantasy of a world we wish we could inhabit, where champagne flows endlessly and hangovers are a source of fun, where class difference does not matter, where youth and beauty are eternal, and above all where endless profusion of melody suggests the unlimited creativity and benevolence of life…Not the least of the charms of the production is the youth and attractiveness of the artists. The audience does not have to suspend disbelief as portly performers mimic characters who are often decades younger than they are."

The Western Opera Theater was created in 1967 by Kurt Adler, who was at the time general director of the San Francisco Opera. The mission of the company was and still is to present "quality live opera performances to audiences who might not otherwise have this opportunity." The tour also gives younger artists an opportunity to perform as part of an ensemble. Throughout its 34-year history, the opera company has performed thousands of performances in venues as diverse as lunchroom cafeterias, gymnasiums and community theaters. It was also the first professional opera company to tour the People’s Republic of China, and has made tours to Japan and Micronesia.

Tickets for the event are free but required. They can be obtained at Ex Libris in Sun Valley, Chapter One in Ketchum, Read All About It in Hailey, or at the door. The Wood River High School doors open at 6:15 p.m. for the 7 p.m. performance. Call 725-0481 ext. 12 for more information.


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