Northern Ireland Opera presents Die Fledermaus
Rehearsals with opera singers from across the world, a chorus of over 40 singers from Northern Ireland and the Ulster Orchestra are underway for the much anticipated Die Fledermaus.
This year is the 145th anniversary of the premiere of Die Fledermaus, having first been performed in Vienna in 1874. Die Fledermaus or The Bat, is the jewel in the crown of the real King of the Waltz, Johann Strauss. The tunes stay with you forever. The humour is wicked. The atmosphere indulgent. It is a farce about men taking liberties, women taking control, and the dangers of dressing up as a bat.
Die Fledermaus tells the story of Falke who wakes up on a bench with a killer hangover. Dressed as a bat. His 'good friend' Eisenstein thought it would be hilarious to abandon him here after partying the night before, leaving him a long walk of shame. It’s been a long time coming, but tonight’s the night for Falke to get his revenge at the most glamourous party of the season where there’ll be champagne. What could possibly go wrong?
Northern Ireland Opera’s two most recent productions - Rigoletto at the Grand Opera House and Sweeney Todd at the Lyric Theatre – resulted in sell-out performances and a season that has seen a further staggering 70% rise in their audience numbers. Founded in only 2010, Northern Ireland Opera has won international acclaim and awards for the quality of its work and been seen in the UK, Ireland and internationally. From its inception, the company was determined to produce strongly imaginative, bold risk-taking work and to broaden the audience for opera in Northern Ireland. Its new Artistic Director, Walter Sutcliffe, has already seen sold out shows and an increase in audiences of over 400% since his arrival. A graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Royal College of Music, London, Walter has directed over 35 critically-acclaimed productions which have been seen in the UK, United States, Germany, Austra, Czech Republic, Italy, France, Estonia, and most recently Chile.
Walter Sutcliffe commented:
“The shows have all been greeted with standing ovations which is a fitting tribute to the quality of the artists on the stage, musicians in the pit and technicians working behind them. Our new operating model has brought in more attendees than ever before, brought us the largest box office since the company began, and has inspired literally thousands of visitors new and old. Thank you to everyone who has helped us take this step.”
On their latest production, Walter commented:
“The Bat, in German Die Fledermaus, is the world’s best and most popular operetta. If you love pure luxurious feel good music there is little more uplifting and indulgent than its incredible array of Viennese waltzes that sparkle even more than the champagne its characters are powered by. And, there’s so much more. It’s a brilliant comedy of male paranoia, bringing out the absurdity of man’s ego mania and obsessions with sexual potency, conquests and status. In a masterclass of irony, it simultaneously seduces and ridicules us. It may be 145 years old, but its relevance today is probably even clearer than when it was written. Or perhaps it just shows us how little has changed. And if you can’t laugh at yourself then what can you laugh at.”
May McFettridge will be making her operatic debut and will be joined by Northern Irish baritone Ben McAteer (Eisenstein), who trained at the National Opera Studio in London and on the Guildhall School of Music & Drama opera course. He is a former winner of Les Azuriales Opera prize, the Guildhall School's English song prize, NI Opera's inaugural Festival of Voice. Her most recent operatic engagements include the roles of Countess Ceprano Rigoletto, Madame Herz Der Schauspieldirektor , Cunegonde Candide (Opera in the Open), Musetta La Boheme, Zerlina Don Giovanni and Sandman & Dewfairy Hansel and Gretel (OITO). Dresden-born Stephan Loges, who will perform the role of Falke, has given recitals throughout the world, including regular appearances at Wigmore Hall, London as well as Carnegie Hall, New York, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Vienna Konzerthaus, Klavierfestival Ruhr, La Monnaie Brussels, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Santiago de Compostela, BBC Radio 3 and the Musee d'Orsay, Paris.
Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, added
“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is immensely proud to be Principal Funder of Northern Ireland Opera, through National Lottery and public funding. The company excels at offering vital professional development opportunities for many of our brightest young singers to perform alongside world-class, critically acclaimed talent. Die Fledermaus is one of the most loved operas and this performance promises an evening full of hilarity and stunning music. Don’t miss out!”
A key priority of Northern Ireland Opera is to broaden the company’s work in outreach and education through extending the company’s engagements and its reach, lifting the curtain on opera by demystifying it through increased community participation and making the art form more accessible. They’ve provided an unprecedented level of access to stage and orchestral rehearsals to primary schools, post primary schools, young people with disabilities and learning difficulties, young people in care, diversity charities, LGBT charities, health charities, carers, choirs, cross-community groups and homeless shelter user groups. Their most recent dynamic outreach week involving over 40 organisations, proved NI Opera are out to show that opera is for everybody. Northern Ireland Opera will once again be providing open rehearsals to Die Fledermaus and opportunities for over 4000 of our most vulnerable people to see opera free of charge.
Tickets available from www.goh.co.uk/whats-on/die-fledermaus