'Die Fledermaus' gets a lively workout at Peabody
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.
PHOTOS BY EDWARD S. DAVIS COURTESY OF PEABODY INSTITUTE