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March 12, 2010

'Die Fledermaus' gets a lively workout at Peabody

Just in case any of you are blog-only readers of mine, I should point out that you'll find elsewhere a review of Peabody Opera Theatre's production of "Die Fledermaus." I'll also add just a few words that aren't in the review (with the space they give me, I can't cram in all of my precious insights).

I've always had a soft spot for the music of Johann Strauss, especially when it's served up with the right combination of legato, rubato and Schlag-ato, not to mention the distinctive Viennese way of slightly rushing the second beat of a waltz. I was impressed Wednesday night during the overture by how much of that style Teri Murai had conveyed to the orchestra, and how much nuance in phrasing the cast summoned during the evening. T

hat counted for a lot, especially in such numbers as the sublime "Brotherhood/Sisterhood" near the end of Act 2 (the operetta is performed here in English) and in Adele's arias (Lindsay Thompson sang the role that night and will again Friday -- she struck me as the real deal in many ways).

I wish there had been a greater quantity of polished singing. Judging by the limited exposure I've had this season, it seems as if the current Peabody crop of voice students is not especially rich in well-developed talent (a "Cosi" in the fall disappointed big time). I heard quite a few technical shortcomings Wednesday, including

strident top registers and indistinct low ones, along with occasional intonation slippage.

But there was such a kick to the performance, so much charm (even when some of the stage business wasn't entirely smooth), and such a strong sense of true ensemble effort that it became easier and easier to get past any shortcomings.

And I must reiterate one truly great thing about this production, deftly directed and designed by Roger Brunyate -- a briskly paced third act.

Time and again, I've seen a soaring "Fledermaus"  take a nose dive because of an endlessly prolonged opening scene of that act and an indulgent actor in the role of the drunken Frosch. Here, it was strictly the minimum -- just enough schtick, just enough laughs, no major drop in the momentum. I, for one, was grateful.


Posted by Tim Smith at 9:14 AM | | Comments (1)


I thought this was a great production. And I do not understand how Rosalinda and Falke were not included in the review, considering that Rosalinda is the leading soprano and Dr. Falke is responsible for the opera taking place, and the opera is named after him. The entire opera is his plot unfolding.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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