Music by Johann Strauss II: Libretto by Richard Genée and Carl Haffner.
Theater an der Wein, April 5, 1874
Alhambra Theatre, London - 18 December, 1876
Stadt Theatre, New York - 21 November, 1874
Adaptation for amateur performance by Phil Park and Ronald Hanmer.
1) English book and lyrics by Alfred Kalisch,
2) book and lyrics by Christopher Hassall,
3) book by Edmund Tracey, lyrics by Christopher Hassall
Composed non-stop in forty-two 'nights of veritable rapture' this is the younger Strauss's most celebrated and popular operetta - intoxicatingly melodious and exuberant. Mistaken identities, flirtations at a masked ball, elegant frivolities and confusions of all kinds provide a hilarious vehicle for some of the most captivating music ever written. A blissful show - especially rewarding for societies with high singing standards.The Overture is one of the most popular ever written, with five of the best tunes woven into a framework of the great 'Fledermaus Waltz'.
An old flame has come looking for Rosalinde Eisenstein - Alfred, a hot blooded tenor. Rosalinde has long since married - but that does not deter Alfred. He stands beneath her window and sings a serenade. Alfred's high Cs still have their old insinuating charm. But what a day he has picked!
Rosalinde's husband is due to report to prison for an eight-day sentence for riotous behaviour. He cannot get out of it, and comes home raging and ranting, deaf to reason. Consolingly, Rosalinde tries to make her husband's last hours of freedom pleasant. For one thing, she flatly refuses to give the maid, Adèle, the evening off.
Adèle's excuses are renowned. This time she says her aunt has measles. But in truth she has had a letter from her sister suggesting she 'borrow' a dress and attend a ball at Count Orlofsky's palace. She is desperate to get the evening off. Rosalinde is unmoved; her thoughts are still running on Alfred and his top C.
Just when Eisenstein has settled into a mood of utter dejection, his old friend Doctor Falke arrives. Doctor Falke and Eisenstein have shared a lot of good times together. There was the time, for instance, when they went to a fancy-dress ball with Eisenstein dressed as a butterfly and Falke dressed as a bat; Falke got drunk and Eisenstein, instead of seeing him home, dumped him on a park bench so that in the morning he had to walk home through the city dressed as a bat.
Now Falke has another excursion in mind. As soon as Rosalinde is out of the room, he proposes an evening at Count Orlofsky's ball. 'But I have to report to gaol in an hour!' 'You can turn yourself in tomorrow morning,' says Falke, and quickly persuades Eisenstein to accompany him using a false name, of course. (There might even be an opportunity for Eisenstein to get out his infallible pocket watch - the one the girls cannot resist.) Eisenstein hurriedly puts on evening dress, telling his wife that he must face up to gaol in style. The fond farewells begin.
Adèle joins in the lament in much the same mood of suppressed delight as Rosalinda and Eisenstein. For Rosalinde has had a change of heart and decided to give her maid the evening off after all. Rosalinde still has Alfred in mind.
No sooner is Rosalinde left alone in the house than a parcel arrives - a mask, a wig and a cryptic note from Doctor Falke: "If you want to see your husband dancing away his prison term, wear these and come to Count Orlofsky's palace tonight."
In high dudgeon, Rosalinde's plans for evening with Alfred change rapidly. Unfortunately Alfred is not so willing to alter his plans. Amorous and shameless, he makes himself at home in Eisenstein's clothes, eating Eisenstein's supper and planning breakfast with Eisenstein's wife.
When yet another visitor is heard coming up the stairs, Rosalinde is at her wits' end. It is Frank, the prison governor. Though he too is on his way to Count Orlofsky's ball, he has come in person to escort his esteemed prisoner to gaol. Seeing Alfred (slightly the worse for drinking Eisenstein's wine) he immediately assumes it is Eisenstein. Alfred begins to contradict him, but Rosalinde hastily assures the prison governor that this is indeed her husband.
Alfred is a great fatalist. He accepts the situation as unavoidable and makes the best he can of it, with a long goodbye to Rosalinde. Then he surrenders himself into Frank's custody.
Prince Orlofsky's parties are legendary. They delight everyone but him. Orlofsky suffers from that terrible disease of billionaires-ennui: everything bores him! He cannot laugh. Tonight, Doctor Falke is his 'Master of the Revels' and has arranged something special for the Count's amusement. Orlofsky promises to pin a medal on Falke's chest if it makes him laugh.
When the Act opens, the guests are singing in praise of the occasion. Adèle receives a less than warm welcome from her sister. 'Letter? What letter? I didn't send you a letter!' Falke sent it. He greets Adele warmly, congratulates her on her new career as an actress, and rechristens her 'Tanya'. A moment later Eisenstein arrives, calling himself the Marquis Renard.
First he makes the grave faux pas of mistaking the elegant actress Tanya for his housemaid! The guests take him to task in 'The Laughing Song'. Adèle joins in. Next, Eisenstein strikes up an undying friendship with Chevalier Chagrin, the pseudonym being used by prison governor Frank. But by the time Falke's chief guest of the evening arrives - a masked Hungarian Countess - Eisenstein has a pair of dancing girls on each arm and his infallible chiming watch at the ready.
He is extremely taken with the mysterious foreign lady. Being well acquainted with the watch and its uses, the 'Countess' (Rosalinde in disguise of course) encourages Eisenstein to put it through its paces. During 'The Watch Duet', she manages to take it from him in such a way that he dare not ask for it back. He bewails his disgrace at losing it.
Orlofsky's entertainments of course include a ballet - an obligatory ingredient in operettas of the period. This one is usually danced to one of the famous Strauss waltzes, although, for the original, Strauss wrote a sequence of national dances Spanish, Scottish, Russian, Hungarian Then the 'Hungarian Countess' obliges the guests by singing a native Hungarian folksong - a Czardas. Then Count Orlofsky toasts the life and soul of the party - 'Champagne the Great!' Frank and Eisenstein are, by this stage, inseparable. The mood is one of universal friendship as Orlofsky begins the dancing with a waltz - the waltz!
The clock strikes midnight. Like twin Cinderellas, Eisenstein and Frank scramble out of doors, leaving behind a wake of wrong coats and hats, not realising that they are headed for the same destination.
The Gaol Scene opens with a cameo comic sketch. Frosch, the drunken deputy warder, is suffering from a surfeit of drink and Alfred's singing in the cells. Frank comes reeling in and falls asleep. Adèle and her sister arrive at the door. They have taken up Frank on his invitation to come and live with him in his 'big town house'- an offer made while the 'Chevalier Chagrin' was not quite himself. Adèle promptly launches into The Audition Song.
No time for applause before the bell rings again. Eisenstein is at the door, reporting for his sentence. Frank refuses to believe Eisenstein is Eisenstein. After all, he arrested Eisenstein the night before, while the prisoner was in his dressing gown, having supper with his wife. Eisenstein demands to see this prisoner, but nobody is allowed into the cells. Fortuitously, his lawyer, Blind, arrives at that very moment. Eisenstein demands the lawyer's hat, glasses, cape, briefcase and beard (!), and dresses up as Blind. Alfred is brought out to consult with his lawyer. He encounters the latest arrival: Rosalinde is in a state of great agitation, partly because of her husband's behaviour at the ball and partly because discovery of her supper with Alfred is inevitable.
Alfred explains to his 'lawyer' that he has been wrongfully arrested and how it came about. Rosalinde explains how unfortunate it might seem if anyone were to find out about the innocent little supper. They find their lawyer surprisingly hostile. Eisenstein takes off his disguise and confronts them as a wronged husband. But nobody is penitent. Rosalinde dangles the chiming watch under her husband's nose.
The entire Orlofsky retinue pour in and bring an end to the confusion. Falke has brought the Count and his party-goers to the prison to conclude 'The Revenge of the Bat'. He explains that every disguise, every pseudonym, every compromising situation was part of his revenge on the man who left him on a park bench dressed as a bat. Rosalinde blames her husband's excesses on Champagne the Great, and Orlofsky decides to sponsor Adèle in her acting career.
There is a perfect excuse for everyone to break into the Champagne Song - and laughing out loud, Orlofsky pins a medal on Doctor Falke's chest.
Principals: 4 female, 8 male (1 non-singing comedy character)
Gabriel von Eisenstein - a man of private means - Tenor
Rosalinde, his wife - Soprano
Adèle, their chambermaid - Coloratura Soprano
Blind, a lawyer - Tenor buffo
Dr. Falke - a notary - Baritone
Prince Orlofsky - Tenor (Sometimes sung in travesty by soprano)
Frank, the prison warden - Baritone
Frosch, his assistant - Comedian
Guests, staff, waiters and ballet dancers.
Musical Numbers (Hassell version)
Trio - Rosalinda, Eistenstein, Dr. Blind - "When your advocate's a ninny … "
Duet - Eisenstein, Falke - "It's the talk of the town … "
Trio - Rosalinda, Adele, Eisenstein - "And must I live eight long days … "
Finale I - "Drain a draught of wine with me … "
Introduction - Chorus - "What a feast, what a spread … "
Couplets - Orlofsky - "I always feel beholden to the guests whom I invite … "
Ensemble and Couplets - Orlofsky, Falke, etc - "How absolutely splendid … "
Duet - Eisenstein, Rosalinda - "What a tonic, what a beauty … "
Csardas - Rosalinda - "Music of childhood … "
Finale II - all soloists and chorus- "The glint of champagne glasses … "
Melodrama - Frank - "Here's a health your highness … "
Couplets - Adele, Ida-Frank - "Picture a coy village maiden … "
Trio - Rosalinda, Alfred, Eisenstein - "I have a suspicion … "
Finale III - Company - "O Fledermaus, old Flittermouse … "
flute, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, percussion, harp, strings. Professional Versions: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 3 percussion, harp, strings
The following relates to the revised amateur version
ROSALINDA EISENSTEIN - A lady of about thirty
GABRIEL EISENSTEIN - Rosalinda's husband
ADELE - Pert soubrette
DOCTOR FALKE - "The Bat" of the story
ALFRED - An opera singer
FRANK - Governor of the prison
PRINCE ORLOFSKY - Blasé millionaire
IDA - Sister of Adele
DOCTOR BLINT - A lawyer
FROSCH - A bibulous police-sergeant
MITZI - One of Rosalinda's housemaids
IVAN - Orlofsky's Major-Domo
Footmen, Maidservants, Ballerinas, Guests,
Notes of principal characters:
A gay, charming lady; aware of her attractiveness to men, and fond of a mild flirtation —as long as it's not too mild. High soprano.
A gentleman of independent means; pleasure loving and irresponsible—an incorrigible philanderer, but very likeable. High baritone.
She has a good sense of humour; fancies herself as a charmer and an actress. High Soprano.
Middle-aged, tall, elegant, smooth, smiling but rather sinister. A sly-minded practical joker. Baritone.
An "old flame" of Rosalinda's, with too high hopes of persuading her to intrigue with him behind her husband's back; flamboyant, melodramatic, none too chivalrous, rather ridiculous. Tenor.
Middle-aged, normally pretty stolid, but inclined to go very gay when persuaded to have a night out. Baritone.
A blasé millionaire who gives lavish par-ties, but normally gets little fun out of them; very broad-minded; kindly at heart. High baritone.
Sister of Adele, whom she aids and abets; a ballerina; fond of a good time. Contralto.
A none-too-competent fuzzy-duddy lawyer given to legal jargon; easily confused and rather foolish. Bass baritone.
In this new ve,çon of "DIE FLEDERMAUS," the orchestration has been care-fully arranged to meet the requirements of modest or large orchestras. The minimum combination for an effective performance is: Flute; 1st B flat Clarinet; 1st and 2nd Trumpets; Ist Trombone; Percussion and Strings. Thereafter, instruments should he added in the following order: 2nd B flat Clarinet; Oboe; 2nd Trombone; Bassoon; 1st and 2nd Horns and lastly, Harp.
The work is liberally cued. In the absence of the Oboe, the 1st Trumpet should play these cues MUTED. Oboe cues are doubled in Flute and Clarinet where practicable, and Horn and Bassoon cues appear in Cello, Trombone and Trumpet parts. It is emphasized that a complete string section should be used, but Clarinet, parts contain many essential cues to be played in the absence of a Viola. The string parts are bowed where necessary, and the Ist Violin has all important melody cues through-out. The vocal score carries instrumentation marks for the musical director's assistance. - RONALD HANMER
Scenes and Settings
ACT 1 - THE EISENSTEIN APARTMENT
ACT 2 - A SALON IN PRINCE ORLOFSKY'S VILLA
ACT 3 - THE PRISON GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
Period: The year is 1874
- LIFE IS A SONG (Adele, Alfred and Chorus) - "Life is a song
for we're well contented here"
- TRIO - NEVER GO TO LAW (Gabriel, Rosalinda, Blint) - "Never, never
go to law! Now I'm worse off than before
- DUET - WHAT A NIGHT (Falke, Gabriel) - "Who's to know if you go
- TRIO - HOW SAD WE ARE (Rosalinda, Gabriel, Adele) - "My dearest
one when you are gone"
- TRIO & CHORUS - HERE'S TO LOVE (Alfred, Rosalinda, Frank and
Chorus) - Won't you slip this glass of wine?"
5a. - MELOS
- TRIO & CHORUS - A MARRIED COUPLE, A HOME SERENE (Rosalinda,
Alfred, Frank and Chorus) - "The gentleman quite obviously is here
at home alone with me"
6a. - MELOS
- FINALE ACT I - "You may meet my Gabriel in jail - who can tell?"
- OPENING ACT 2 - WHAT A FEAST (Chorus) - "What a feast, what a dance,
what a scene of lavish splendour!
- SONG - CHACUN A SON GOUT (Orlofsky and Chorus) - "Whenever I've
people here to dine"
- SONG - THE LAUGHING SONG (Adele, Orlofsky, Falke, Gabriel and
Chorus) - "How very entertaining"
- SONG - HOMELAND (Rosalinda and Chorus) - "Homeland, dear homeland"
- DUET - THE TICK-TOCK POLKA (Gabriel and Rosalinda)- "What a dreamer,
what a creature"
- ENSEMBLE - CHAMPAGNE (Principals and Chorus) - "Good wines if you
can afford 'em"
13a. - MERCI, MERCI, MERCI ! (Ensemble) - "The best of health mon cher ami"
- SONG - BROTHER MINE (Falke & Ensemble) - "Brother mine, brother
mine and sister mine"
- BALLET MUSIC (with chorus)
- FINALE ACT II: (The entire company) - "And now my friends, let's waltz"
- OPENING ACT III - "Won't you sip this glass of wine?"
- SONG - AFTER THE BALL (Frank) - "Champagne is the wine the poet
- SONG - HOW CAN YOU BE SO UNGALLANT (Adele and Chorus) - "How can
you be so ungallant?"
- TRIO - THE LEGAL PROFESSION (Rosalinda, Alfred, Gabriel) - "The
legal profession, their guilt expression"
- FINALE ACT III : (Principals and Chorus) - "The comedy is ended
- FIRST CURTAIN CALL - "There's never been such a wond'rous night"