fledermaus cast

The cast of Die Fledermaus. Pictures: Bill Cooper

Die Fledermaus

Welsh National Opera

Birmingham Hippodrome


This WNO adaption of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, under the direction John Copley, is part homage, part revival and part farce.

It’s a clever combination that keeps you entertained throughout and for once there is genuine comedy, although its form is not strictly opera.

This tale of high jinks amongst the wealthy aristocratic folk of Vienna is thin on any day but the spirited and comic timing of this cast mines every ounce and nugget of the farce to great effect.

On the eve of a short incarceration for punching a police officer, Eisenstein is tricked into attending one last party and in doing so is set up by his friend Dr Falke. Falke is still grieved from being abandoned by him some time before after another party, when he was left in a drunken state and dressed as a bat.


Mary–Elizabeth Williams as Rosalinde and Mark Stones as the suave Eisenstein.   

A further series of ruses by the scheming Falke, costume disguises and mistaken identities has practically everyone masquerading as someone else by the second act.  Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinde is pursued by an amorous past lover Alfred, forever wooing her with his short renditions of other famous operas. The starchy Chambermaid Adele also schemes a night off and by coincidence ends up at the same party along with her employer Rosalinde both of them unwittingly falling foul of Falke's amusing plans.

Thomas Hanus conducts this fast paced affair with great enthusiasm and at a pace sometimes that the English surtitles struggled to keep up. 

Philadelphian Mary–Elizabeth Williams known more for her more dramatic performances was voracious and sassy in the role of Rosalinde and a powerful vocal opponent to the strength of Mark Stones suave Eisenstein.

Ben McAtter was precise and cutting as the mastermind Falke whilst Paul Charles Clarke got to exercise his solo singing ability with a selection of other operatic excerpts as the love struck Alfred. Rhian Lois was superb as the young Adele handling the Laughing Aria with ease whilst Emma Carrington comfortably wore the trousers for the role of Count Orlofsky the firstly bored then amused host of the party.    


Steve Spiers with a comedy masterclass as jailer Frosch

This revival is bang up-to-date with some scathing asides about current politics and heads of state Tim Reeds adaptable set is scalable to handle the three acts transforming from the opulence of a Viennese home to a ballroom and finally the slease of a grimy jailhouse.

Whilst the singing and music is what we should be here for, Act III was expertly stolen by the comedy timing of Steve Spiers.    

In the role of assistant jailer Frosch he developed a Tommy Cooperish persona that took the production in a complete review direction. Even simple prat falls after his act introduction continued to raise laughter.

This production delights thoughtout and this adventurous and engaging break from the usual opera formality has injected new life into the one of Strauss’s most revered works.

The entertaining result is highly appropriate, being one that would actually be approved of by the Champagne drenched socialites Die Fledermaus features.

Jeff Grant


Welsh National Opera perform Madame Butterfly at Birmingham Hippodromeon 29 and 30 June and finally Der Rosenkavalier on 1 July.  

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