‘Die Fledermaus’ from Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera
Feb 5, 2012 — Santa Monica
by Coril Prochnow
The Church at Ocean Park was sold out for the February 5th performance of Los Angeles Metropolitan Opera’s Die Fledermaus. There was only one empty chair left as Galina Barskaya began playing the overture to the operetta. As I couldn’t locate the source of the sound, and since it was played with such accuracy and classic Viennese style, it initially seemed that a recorded soundtrack was being used. At the end of the overture, the audience erupted in applause, and Galina could be seen sitting high up in the loft, in front of an electronic keyboard. Wow! It was worth the price of admission just to hear that music coming from her fingers.
The opera itself was thoroughly enjoyable. It had been updated with current cultural references which added to the comedic impact of the story. Costumes and stage props were very effective, especially at Prince Orlovsky’s ball and back at the “Big House” with Warden Frank.
Linda Jackson’s vocal ease and beautiful tone quality in the role of Rosalinda was one of the high points of the show. Glenn Fernandez, as her lover, Alfred, was unstoppable in his determination to renew their love, in spite of the fact that she was now happily married. His clear, lyric tenor projected well and was a good fit for the sentimental music. Maureen Davis, as Adele, was a bright spot in the show every time she appeared onstage, waltzing through the coloratura of her opening “letter aria” and “Mein Herr Marquis”. Her alternating boldness and timidity made her charming and sympathetic as the story unfolded.
Matt Acuff delivered a very convincing performance as Dr. Falke, a diabolical character who painstakingly set up his vengeance against Eisenstein throughout the show, and seduced young girls in his spare time. His resonant baritone was easy to understand and carried well in the performance space. Mark Sauter, as Eisenstein, did a great job creating the persona of a friendly guy who’s oblivious to the harm he once caused, and eager to take an opportunity (offered by Falke) for an evening free from marital ties. His comeuppance seemed well-deserved, and he sounded completely at home in the vocal requirements of his role, with a strong, clean baritone that held its own with Falke and Rosalinda.
Prince Orlovsky, sung by Elizabeth Ackerman, was a bored elitist who also just happened to have a beautiful mezzo voice, warm and rich throughout her full range. Eugene Carbajal’s interpretation of Warden Frank was thoroughly entertaining, from the time he first appeared to arrest Eisenstein, to his drunken soliloquy at the prison. His round, dark baritone voice was unique in the ensemble and very authoritative, excellent for a Prison Warden. Dr. Blind, played by Carlos Gomez, generated lots of laughs as his double-talk left everyone he met in either an uproar or a stupor. (He reminded me a little of Johnny Depp…) Kent Vitale did a credible job as Frank’s deputy, Frosch, and had a wonderful moment onstage when he mistook the coat-tree for his boss.
The pre-concert lecture by Marcela Pan was terrific, both in its informative quality and in her charming delivery. Supertitles were projected against the back wall of the stage, so that they could be read without pulling the audience’s eyes away from the action onstage. Altogether, it was a very satisfying evening of operetta.
Note: Coril Prochnow is a classical singer in the LA area and knows several of the performers personally.