STRAUSS: Die Fledermaus

The CD is a faithful and therefore easy to produce copy of the LP
Highlights. It lasts 53 minutes and therefore, even as a budget issue, doesn’t give
value for the money. All ‘big moments’ are on it but a modern CD can easily
include all introductory music, often underlining some dialogue and so giving us
the full score. After all, the complete performance was recorded 35 years ago and I
don’t think that issue will stand high on most collector’s favourite list due to some
dubious casting decisions.

The most obvious mistake is Rothenberger as Rosalinde. Though the voice was
not so fresh anymore and the top had become less easy, she still could have given
us an acceptable Adèle. But in those days she was a big star in Germany with her
own TV-show as I well remember and therefore well bankable. A ‘seconda donna’
was out of the question and as a result she is completely out of her league. Her
czardas in the second act, admittedly one of the most taxing arias for any soprano
due to Strauss’ way of using the voice as another violin, is 4 minutes of strain,
driving or trying to drive her small voice over the Vienna Philharmonic. She
cannot dominate the big ensembles at the end of the second act and one sighs for
Gueden and doesn’t even want to think of Lehmann. Her partner in many an
operetta recording was Nicolai Gedda and here he sings Eisenstein. I’ve never
liked Prey or Waechter in this role, good singers as they were, because together
with Franke and Falk this made for three baritones. Gedda with all his talent
nevertheless is only a bleak unimpressive Eisenstein without the sprinkling so
necessary in the second act (how one longs for Tauber). Waldemar Kmennt, far
less gifted than Gedda, in the second Karajan recording is more convincing and
proves that many years of operetta experience in the theatre have the edge over
Gedda’s flying in and out and re-recording a role he only sang in the famous
Schwarzkopf/Karajan I Fledermaus. Renate Hom is a charming Adèle though she
lacks the complete vocal security at the top of the voice (she started out as a pop
singer). Adolf Dallapoezza on the contrary has the necessary virility for Alfred and
the apt sound. After all, though born in the conquered part of Austria by Italy, his
name betrays Italian ancestry. Fischer-Dieskau in his many worthwhile books with
memories freely admits that contrary to others (meant is his great rival Prey) he
was not able to sing roles in a lighter vein. Still his Falke is amusing and charming
and definitely not the unmitigated disaster his Homonay was in Der Zigeuneraron
(where Mrs. Dieskau sang the title role). As always in Fledermaus the Vienna
Philharmonic conducts itself very well though officially the name of the conductor
is Willy Boskovsky, for many years the orchestra’s beloved ‘Konzertmeister’.

Jan Neckers

image_description=Johan Strauss: Die Fledermaus (highlights).
product_title=Johan Strauss: Die Fledermaus (highlights)
product_by=Nicolai Gedda (Eisenstein), Anneliese Rothenberger (Rosalinde), Renate Holm
(Adèle), Brigitte Fassbaender (Orlofsvky), Adolf Dallapozza (Alfred), Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau (Falke), Walter Berry (Frank). Wiener Symphoniker conducted by Willy Boskovsky.
Recorded in November and December 1971.
product_id=EMI Classics 0094635569124 [CD]