As a young fellow of 14, I saw a production of the Johann Strauss opera “Die Fledermaus”, and I still have memories of it. It was live at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria. Long time ago…
This most memorable of all Johann Strauss’s operettas is a perennial favorite, with its bright, wonderful Viennese dance music and charmingly nonsensical plot. In this glittering production, the elegant gaiety of the music provides an evening of sparkling entertainment. The singers are Judith Howarth, Louis Otey, Jochen Kowalski, and Nancy Gustafson. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Chorus are conducted by Richard Bonynge.
The production, as recorded on this DVD, also preserves a very special occasion: The 1990 New Year’s Eve Gala in which Joan Sutherland made a cameo appearance–her Covent Garden farewell performance–during the Fledermaus party scene. She brought with her two of the outstanding partners in her career, Marilyn Horne and Luciano Pavarotti. All were in very good voice, and they gave their audience some extraordinary singing. Highlights included Sutherland’s wonderful “Home, Sweet Home,” Horne’s performance of “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” from Samson et Dalila, and Sutherland and Pavarotti in the heart-breaking duet “Parigi, o cara” from La Traviata.
Although this recording is a fine Fledermaus performance, many will want to see this DVD mainly for its historic farewell to Miss Sutherland. The party scene lasts about 40 minutes, and it also includes two ballets to Strauss’ music. We see Dame Joan at the final curtain calls when she speaks her farewell to the enthusiastic audience.
Here are Luciano Pavarotti and Marilyn Horne as guests of Joan Sutherland in the operetta “Die Fledermaus”:
And here’s one more solo by Pavarotti for the guests at the party: