It’s been suggested that it was Offenbach who proposed to waltz king Johann Strauss II that he try his hand at the vocal form. And it was with such gems as A Night in Venice and Vienna Blood that Strauss gained a significant reputation, virtually single-handedly creating Viennese operetta and presenting his masterpiece Die Fledermaus in 1874. The work quickly caught on and there have been many recordings, often reflecting contemporary operatic practice whilst featuring the finest lyric sopranos of the day as the charming and flirtatious Rosalinde.
This new recording presents an idiomatic native German cast surrounding Laura Aikin as Rosalinde in this picaresque tale. In these times of financial cutbacks, the production is recorded live and spliced together from superior performances. The operetta is presented in SACD format but listening to it through normal two channel stereo, the placement of some of the singers seems odd at times. However, there is much to praise – updated dialogue by cast member Nikolai Schukoff and the orchestral playing under Foster is playful and highly polished.
Incidentally, my favourite recording remains the 1955 Karajan (EMI), produced by Walter Legge, featuring the wonderfully appropriate Schwarzkopf, Gedda and an altogether equally ideal cast. And London’s Philharmonia Orchestra responds as well as any Viennese ensemble.
Composition: Die Fledermaus
Performer: NDR Radiophilharmonie/
Catalogue Number: PENTATONE PTC5186635 (2SACD)