|Photo Credit: Portland Opera|
A solid cast of principals who were equally at home in the realm of comic timing, made it all work, starting with Daniel Belcher in the role of Gabriel von Eisenstein. Belcher marvelously captured the impulsiveness, bravado, and fatuousness wrapped in charm of von Eisenstein. His baritone exhibited an engagingly warm, ringing tone that was pure gold.
As von Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde, Mary Dunleavy sang with assured grace even in difficult situations like when she had to fend off the groping Alfred (Ryan MacPherson). Her singing of the csardas inspired “Klänge der Heimat” (Sounds of the Homeland”) was a highlight of the evening.
MacPherson was an ardent and agile Alfred, singing with panache while climbing over window sills or pulling Rosalinde on top of him while reclining on a divan. Susannah Biller sparkled as Adele with a brilliant tone and terrific precision, and her singing of “Mein Herr Marquis” was a gem of a number during the big party scene in the second act.
|Eisenstein and Falke with watch / Photo credit: Portland Opera|
The orchestra, under Music Director George Manahan, sounded exuberant and slightly expansive like a good Tokaji. The chorus, prepared by, prepared by Nicholas Fox, sang with gusto. The scenery, provided by Seattle Opera, and costumes, by Washington National Opera, were traditional, providing context that set the story in the late Nineteenth Century.
|Rosalinde singing the csardas at Orlovsky's party / Photo credit: Portland Opera|
Director Chas Rader-Shieber made sure that there wasn’t a dull moment and that the interactions between the characters flowed smoothly. Assistant Director and Choreographer Matthew Ferraro added several humorous touches, including a sequence in which some of the female dancers take a tumble down the grand staircase at Orlovsky’s palace.
The character of Frosch the jailer got a refreshingly new take. Usually he is a good-natured drunk who has just enough charm to win over the audience. In this production, Frosch (Rick Huddle) was totally alert yet a little spooked by the mysterious lighting at the jail.
Members of BodyVox, including one of its artistic directors Jamey Hampton, made special guest appearances during the party scene in the second act. These were very witty and athletic performances that the audience ate up, yet Orlovsky remained unsmiling. For each performance, different special guests have been invited, and that should continue to make this anniversary production of “Die Fledermaus” an delightful crowd-pleaser.
|Members of BodyVox (Jamey Hampton on right) pose during intermission with an admirer|