Johann Strauss II (Austria, 1825-1899)
Libretto Karl Haffner, Richard Genée
Based on Das Gefängnis (Roderich Benedix) and Le Réveillon (Henri Meilhac& Ludovic Halévy)
Premiere At Theater and der Wien, Vienna, Austria, on the 5th of April, 1874
Last third of 19th century, a bathing resort near a large town
Synopsis in short
Eisenstein is due to report to prison, having defaulted on his taxes. He is induced, however, to attend a fancy-dress party at Prince Orlofsky's villa, by his friend Dr Falke, who plans revenge for having been abandoned on a previous occasion to go home in his costume of a bat. Eisenstein's wife takes the opportunity of his absence for a rendevouz at her house with Alfred, who is mistaken by Frank, the prison governor, for her husband and taken to prison. Adele has found an excuse for taking time off and in a "borrowed" dress attends Prince Orlofsky's party, where Rosalinde also appears, disguised as a Hungarian countess. In a play of disguises and partly mistaken identities Eisenstein flirts with his own wife and toasts, under the guise of the Marquis Renard, the prison governor Frank, introduced as the Chevalier Chagrin. They leave together, Eisenstein now intending to report to the prison. There the drunken jailer Frosch has objections to the singing of Alfred. Adele and her sister, having dramatic ambitions, seek Frank's help in supporting Adele's stage career, while Eisenstein, who now arrives, cannot persuade Frank at first of his identity and when he learns that the supposed Eisenstein is already in prison he is suspicious of Rosalinde. Disguised as his lawyer Dr Blind, he cross-examines Rosalinde and Alfred, but she retaliates when he reveals his identity, by producing Eisenstein's watch, which the supposed Hungarian countess had received from him at Prince Orlofsky's. Falke admits his part in the plot, Rosalinde and Alfred claim their assignation as a part of it, and all ends in apparent satisfaction.
The operetta starts with a sparkling overture, citing tunes from the last act and then the Fledermaus waltz of the second act party. Adele's laughing song, Mein Herr Marquis (My lord marquis) in which she rejects Eisenstein's suggestion and her true identity, and her delightful display of varied acting ability, Spiel'ich die Unschuld vom Lande (When I play the innocent), to Frank are often heard and much loved arias as well as Rosalinde’s Hungarian Czárdás, Klänge der Heimat (Sounds of my homeland), while the song of friendship, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein (Little brothers and sisters), as the party reaches a climax, is among the most memorablel numbers in one of the greatest of all Viennese operettas.
(Synopsis by Roxana Haines)