University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Strauss: Die Fledermaus

12/31/2017 1:00 pm
12/31/2017 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Just as Handel’s Messsiah has been traditionally linked to Christmas, the ebullient Viennese operetta Die Fledermaus (1874), with its grand ball scene in the second act, perfectly harmonizes with New Year’s Eve festivities. (Then there’s the hung-over third act with its associations with New Year’s Day.) Die Fledermaus is the most famous operetta of the Golden Age of the genre, and the undoubted masterpiece of “The Waltz King” Johann Strauss, Jr.

I have often broadcast recordings of Die Fledermaus right around the New Year. Many of these have been old recordings of historic interest. One of the best of them is Decca’s 1960 LP release, taped in early stereo sound, with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus. That recording included the ballet music in the second act- a number that is usually omitted. In the 1960 studio taping the action stops at the end of Act Two for the gala pops concert, with a lineup of stellar operatic voices of the period participating. The gala sequence was edited out of the Pristine label’s 2011 CD reissue of the 1960 Karajan Fledermaus, which has excellent sound effects and entirely complimentary background crowd noise during the grand ball. I broadcast the Pristine reissue on New Year’s Day 2017. My colleague Ron Horn will be substituting for me this Sunday. He will be presenting a different 2011 reissue of the same vintage recording. The Alto compact disc reissue includes the entire gala, which Ron intends to broadcast.