Die Fledermaus - Synopsis

Apr 02, 2017


Vienna, 1890s. Through the windows of the Eisenstein home floats a serenade by Alfred, a tenor whose top A drives women to distraction and who professes to be in love with the beautiful Rosalinda, now the wife of Gabriel yon Eisenstein. Adele, their feisty chambermaid, saunters into the drawing room reading an invitation from her sister, Ida, to the party of the year, hosted by the rich young Russian, Prince Orlofsky. Rosalinda, bedeviled by a headache and believing she has heard Alfred's voice, enters but finds only Adele. The young maid pleads for the evening off to visit a `sick aunt', but is told that she cannot go as her mistress can't be left alone on the night that her husband is sent to jail for eight days having had an altercation with the law. Alfred clambers through the window and begins to woo Rosalinda, who at first resists his advances but begins to swoon on hearing his voice: however the suitor swiftly exits on the entrance of Eisenstein and his bungling lawyer, Blind. Both have returned from a session in court where Eisenstein has been sentenced to an even longer term because of his inept advocate. Blind is dismissed and in walks Dr Falke, Eisenstein's long standing friend, suggesting that he postpone his surrender to the prison authorities and, inviting him to a grand ball, he suggests he bring along his repeater stop-watch, the one that charms all the ladies. Rosalinda returns mystified that her husband is in full evening dress and seemingly so cheery before his jail term. Bidding her husband a sorrowful farewell she permits Adele to visit her `aunt', after all, before receiving the amorous Alfred once more. Their tete-a-tete is interrupted by the prison Governor Frank, who mistakes Alfred, wearing Eisenstein's dressing gown, for the man he has come to escort to jail. Not wanting her reputation to be jeopardised, Rosalinda persuades Alfred to pose as her husband-his only consolation before being led to prison is a series of farewell kisses with his beautiful `wife'.


An antechamber at Prince Orlofsky's palace. Adele is surprised that her invitation did not in fact come from her sister Ida, and with the other guests they both await the arrival of their host. Orlofsky enters, rather bored despite Falke's promise of a comedy of errors. The prince proclaims that there is only one rule of the party, his guests must do whatever suits their fancy-'Chacun a son gout'. Eisenstein enters under the guise of Marquis Renard and encounters the glamorous actress Mme Olga, who laughs at his suggestion that she bears an uncanny resemblance to his chambermaid. Frank arrives under the alias of Chevalier Chagrin followed by the entrance of the exotic masked Hungarian Countess, who sings an evocative showpiece about her yearning for her homeland-the Czardas. An increasingly tipsy Eisenstein engages in a lengthy flirtation with the Countess, not realising that it is in fact his wife who meanwhile manages to pocket his stop-watch, holding it as proof of his philandering. Further inspired by the champagne, Eisenstein relates the story of how both he and Dr Falke attended a fancy dress ball: he was dressed as a butterfly and his friend, a bat. A little worse for wear, Dr Falke awoke the next morning to the realisation that his friend had abandoned him and he was left to walk through town in full costume, subsequently becoming known as Dr Bat. The story is greatly enjoyed by Frank, who strikes up the warmest of friendships with the Marquis. Orlofsky proposes a toast to champagne and is joined by the whole company who in turn, at Falke's suggestion, affectionately swear eternal brother- and sisterhood. More champagne flows and the guests dance wildly until dawn. As the clock strikes six, both Eisenstein and Frank depart to make their independent ways to the prison.


At the prison. Alfred persists in singing, much to the annoyance of Frosch, the drunken jailer. Frank arrives followed by Adele and Ida. Adele confesses that she is not a glamorous actress despite her having the talent for it. Frank, hearing someone at the door, hides the girls in a cell and admits the Marquis, who in turn confesses his real identity. Both men are a little confused that the cell is already occupied by a man who claims to be Eisenstein and who was found supping with Rosalinda. Blind enters, having been summoned by Alfred, and is astonished when his legal robe and wig are snatched by Eisenstein wanting an explanation from the impostor. No sooner is Eisenstein disguised than in hurries Rosalinda hoping to secure Alfred's release and to press divorce charges against her philandering husband. She confides her flirtation with her would-be paramour to the `lawyer' and an enraged Eisenstein removes his disguise and begins a self-righteous tirade as a wronged husband-at which point Rosalinda produces the watch she took from him at the ball, proving his promiscuity. Falke arrives with Orlofsky and his guests celebrating `The Revenge of the Bat' and, believing the tete-a-tete was part of the prank, Eisenstein asks for Rosalinda's forgiveness. Orlofsky promises to underwrite Adele's career and a final toast to the King Champagne is sung.