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Die Fledermaus

Die Fledermaus (The Bat) is a comic operetta by Johann Strauss II. Text by Haffner (from the French; but the action in general preceding the second act is the same as the comedy of Benedix, "The Prison"). First production, Vienna, 1874.


The Baron von Eisenstein has been committed to prison for eight days for insulting an official, partly through the inefficiency of his attorney, the stuttering Dr. Blind, and is to begin his imprisonment this day. His friend, Notary Falke, however, persuades him to postpone it until the morrow and to accompany him to a ball at the residence of Prince Orlofsky, where he will meet the handsome ladies of the opera ballet. Falke had been at a masked ball the previous winter, costumed as a bat, and had been compelled by Eisenstein to walk to his home in broad daylight to the joy and amusement of the populace. He hopes to find an opportunity for vengeance at the coming ball. Eisenstein accepts the invitation, and telling his wife he is going to prison, and taking a mournful farewell of her and the maid Adèle, hastens with Falke to the ball. After his departure Rosalinde, his wife, is visited by a former admirer, the singing teacher, Alfred, whose behaviour is rather free. The night has set in and Frank, the governor of the prison, has come to take Eisenstein to jail. He finds Alfred taking his ease attired in a smoking jacket, and he, in order not to compromise Rosalinde, moved by her prayers, is induced to represent himself as Eisenstein and to accompany Frank. Falke, who has received plein pouvoir from Prince Orlofsky, has also invited the governor of the prison, Frank, the maid Adèle, and to complete the joke, Rosalinde, to be his guests at the ball. The latter, in order to observe her husband, appears masked. She is introduced by Falke as an Hungarian countess, and succeeds during an amorous tête-à-tête in abstracting from the pockets of her husband his valuable watch, to use in the future as a corpus delicti. Frank has paid court to Adèle, and the next morning they all find themselves in prison, when the confusion increases, for Falke has introduced Eisenstein as Marquis Renard, Frank as Chevalier Chagrin and Adèle as an actress. It is still further increased by the jailer, Frosch, who has profited by the absence of the prison director to become gloriously drunk. Adèle arrives to obtain the assistance of the Chevalier Chagrin, Eisenstein to begin his prison term, Alfred wants to get out of jail, Rosalinde to commence action for divorce, and Frank is still intoxicated. Frosch locks up Adèle and her companion, and the height of the tumult has been reached when Falke arrives with all the guests of the ball and declares the whole as an act of vengeance for the "Fledermaus." Everything is amicably arranged, but Eisenstein is compelled to serve his full term in jail.

ACT I. Apartments of Eisenstein. Alfred serenades his former sweetheart. ("Dove, that has escaped.") Adèle has received the invitation to the ball ("My sister Ida writes to me"), and asks for leave of absence. Eisenstein comes to Rosalinde in altercation with his attorney. (Terzett: "Well, with such an attorney.") Falke brings the invitation to the ball. (Duet: "Come with me to the souper.") Eisenstein’s farewell to Rosalinde and Adèle. (Terzett with the refrain: "Oh dear, oh dear, how sorry I am.") Alfred arrives. (Finale, drinking song: "Happy is he who forgets"; Rosalinde’s defence when Frank arrives: "In tête-à-tête with me so late," and Frank’s invitation: "My beautiful, large bird-cage.")

ACT II. Summer house in the villa Orlofsky. (Chorus: "A souper is before us.") Departure of the chorus, introduction of Eisenstein and song of the prince. ("I love to invite my friends.") Eisenstein meets Adèle. (Ensemble and song of Adèle: "My dear marquis.") Falke leaves Rosalinde to Eisenstein. (Watch duet: "My eyes will soon be dim.") The company approaches, Rosalinde is introduced as an Hungarian. (Czardas: "Sounds from home" and finale. Drinking song: "In the fire stream of the grape"; canon: "Brothers, brothers and sisters"; Ballet; waltz finale, "Ha, what joy, what a night of delight.")

ACT III. Office of the governor at the prison. Appearance of Frank. (Melodrama; Couplet of Adèle: "I am an innocent from the country"; Terzett between Rosalinde, Eisenstein, Alfred: "A strange adventure"; and finale, "Oh bat, oh bat, at last let thy victim escape.")

References and external links: Plot taken from The Opera Goer's Complete Guide by Leo Melitz, 1921 version.

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