Johann Strauss Jr.
The Great Moments of Die Fledermaus
CAST: Rosalinda: Anna Moffo, Alfred: Sergio Franchi, Orlofsky: Risë Stevens, Adele: Jeanette Scovotti, Eisenstein: Richard Lewis, Falke: George London, Frank: John Hauxvell
Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Chorus
Oscar Danon, conductor
Sony, 1964 (1999)
If there is anything regrettable about this old recording of Die Fledermaus is that Anna Moffo and the rest of this excellent cast have recorded only excerpts from the famous operetta written by Johannes Strauss II in 1874 and the regret is even more acute if you take into consideration the lovely, lively performance of the existing pieces.
The Great Moments of Die Fledermaus: The Conduction
The album begins with an entertaining, brilliant overture. Oscar Danon conducts it with such a verve and spirit that the listener is immediately enthralled by the merry world where he or she is invited to enter – a world where it is so easy to imagine floods of champagne as those evoked in Champagne is so romancing, tra la la la from Act II. As for the language of this evocation, Die Fledermaus is not sung in the original German but in English translation, a choice that adds a peculiar “colour” to the operetta, making it sound even more funny, although it is odd that celebrated pieces as Mein Herr Marquis become for the occasion Look at how I look (the usual inconvenience of every translation…).
Anna Moffo (Rosalinda) and the Other Singers
The undisputable primadonna cannot be anyone else but Anna Moffo as Rosalinda as her temperament and her delightful voice with that luminous timbre are absolutely suitable to such a role and, from a general point of view, to such a work. She does not only stand out in her aria Echoes of Hungary!, but also when she sings with her colleagues and she outclasses their voices without any effort, only by virtue of her precious instrument.
Even if Moffo is the most celebrated name of Die Fledermaus, the lesser-known soprano Jeanette Scovotti (Adele) is a surprise and, although her voice is not as rich as Moffo’s, she is an exquisite performer and her Look at how I look is definitely valuable. Sergio Franchi as Alfred is another, remarkable singer both for vocal means and attitude and he seems to amuse himself to the highest degree when he sings with Moffo Alfred! – Here we are, just you and I. It is worth to remember also Risë Stevens as Orlofsky who, differently from the singers I have mentioned until now, does not possess neither a particularly precious timbre nor a solid technique, but her comic verve is undisputable and disguise in few cases the possible defects. There are still to remember Richard Lewis as Eisenstein, George London as Falke and John Hauxvell as Frank, all fine performers.
This Fledermaus lasts less that fifty minutes, but what fifty minutes are those! If you are looking for a light work without renouncing to some very good music, this is precisely the recording you need.
This recorded is also included in Anna Moffo. The Complete RCA Recital Albums, a 12-CDs box set collecting Moffo’s ten recital albums released to mark the tenth anniversary of the soprano’s death.