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UCA presents historically hilarious ‘Die Fledermaus’ operetta

The University Center for the Arts presented “Die Fledermaus,” an operetta in three acts by Johann Strauss II, this weekend. It began its opening night on Thursday, performing for a huge audience in Griffin Concert Hall with a versatile and beautiful set on stage. The show lasted approximately two hours and featured a wide assortment of opera songs to fit the mood of each scene. An orchestra also accompanied the plot and singers, hidden below the stage.

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The Colorado State University Ralph Opera Center presented Die Fledermaus on Nov. 3, 2016. CSU students get in free of charge. Photo credit: Brooke Buchan

A press release from the University Center for the Arts reads, “It is New Year’s Eve in 1899 Vienna, and a man stands outside an apartment serenading the love of his life. She, however, is married to another man who flirts often with other women. An elegant masked ball is being hosted this very night, setting the perfect scene for people to spy, uncover truths, reconnect with old flames, and maybe even get thrown in jail. We do not want to give too much away, as this is certainly an opera you will want to see unfold before your own eyes.”

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The singers of the opera had incredible vocal ranges that demonstrated extreme control; a skill only acquired through years of practice and vocal training. When large groups sang together, they harmonized perfectly with each other and the orchestra.

In addition to unmatched musical skill that captured the audience’s attention, the plot of the opera presented a complex comedy that developed with the music and caused the hall to burst into laughter over and over. Buckets were thrown on heads, enemies were threatened with wooden stools and far too much champagne was drank.

Two casts perform the opera, one for Nov. 3 and 5 and the other for Nov. 4 and 6. Many additional members make up the chorus and orchestra, while even more work backstage as crew members and designers.

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"Die Fledermaus" cast take bows after the show on opening night. Photo credit: Mckenzie Moore

The opera’s program notes describe the background of the opera. Karl Haffner and Richard Genee wrote the libretto based off of “Le Reveillon,” a French play. They translated the plot to German and changed many character names in addition to fixing a few minor plot issues. When they gave the libretto to Johann Strauss II to compose, he loved the plot so much that he shut himself away and composed the entire opera in 42 days. The opera premiered at the Theatre an der Wien in April 1874 and served as a happy reminder of more carefree times, as it occurred the year after a stock market crash that elicited an economic depression.

Now, over a hundred years later, “Die Fledermaus” continues to be performed across the country. Its dry humor and farce-like drama holds the audience’s attention while the musical complexity allows for actors and musicians to develop and showcase their skills. Colorado State University put on a highly entertaining opening night for both campus and community and the historically hilarious opera will continue over the weekend.

“Die Fledermausbegins at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Griffin Concert Hall in the University Center for the Arts.

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