Die Fledermaus romps through Nashville,
By Joseph E. Morgan
In the Nashville Opera’s current production of Johann Strauss II’s operetta Die Fledermaus , Stage
Director John Hoomes has embraced the work’s origins in French vaudeville by leading a clever romp
through the Viennese glitz while wearing cowboy boots. That is to say, the production includes all the
traditional and glamourous music and scenes–the waltzes, the Champagne chorus, the Viennese Ball,
but the drama is also littered with eclectic humor and references that one would only hear (and
understand) in Nashville—Willie Nelson (“Crazy”), Elvis (“Thank you, thank you very much!”) and
banjos—even Bart Durham Esquire gets mention.
And Hoomes’s stage is full of actors with wonderful voices. Soprano Lindsay Russell as Adele is
downright hilarious as the rambunctiously cheeky maidservant. Her enchanting “Laughing Aria” brought
out the light, authentic and effortless character of her instrument. Similarly, Richard Troxell’s amorous
Alfredo was just as mischievous as a stylized Italian tenor. As part of his schtick, he managed excellent
quotes from masterworks of Italianate Opera, especially the big note on “Vincerò!” from “Nessun
Dorma” in Puccini’s Turandot—great comedy for the opera lovers in the audience.
The Primos, soprano Carla Thelen Hanson as Rosalinde and baritone Corey McKern as Eisenstein, are
well cast both in character and voice. In the second act “Watch Duet,” Hanson’s plushy velvet voice
went with McKern’s crisp baritone like Chambord and champagne. Even Brian Russell’s second act
standup routine was hilarious. The orchestra, slide whistles and all, is performing very well under Dean
Williamson’s direction. His nimble and stylish interpretation revealed that his relationship with the
Nashville Opera Orchestra just reaches greater heights with every production.
In all, Strauss’s Operetta is not heavy fare. It contains no dramatic deaths, no overt political statements
or grandiose sentiments of existential angst. What it does do is offer a wonderful escape from all that,
and if you are looking for something fun to do Saturday Night, this is the ticket.