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“Blame it on the champagne, tra la la la la !” That’s the half-truth that the protagonists in Johann Strauss’s THE BAT sign up to at the end of a drink-fuelled night of mistaken identities and erotic escapades. But alcohol is only partly to blame.

u. a. Angela Brower als Prinz Orlofsky, Meechot Marrero als Adele
u. a. Angela Brower als Prinz Orlofsky, Meechot Marrero als Adele Ruth Tromboukis

The confusion is largely due to the wiles of the humiliated Dr Falke, who was once exposed to small-town ridicule dressed in the costume of a bat and is now seizing his chance to avenge himself on his ‘good pal’, bon vivant Gabriel von Eisenstein.

And so it is that the maid disguises herself as an actress, the wife as a Hungarian countess and Eisenstein himself as a French marquess and off they trot to Prince Orlofsky’s masked ball. That they end up bewailing their fate in jail early the next morning is less down to champagne than to the natural course of events.

In THE BAT Johann Strauss pulled off a work that proved to be the prototypical Viennese operetta, bursting with waltzes and polkas and oozing wicked irony. Inspired by Offenbach’s opéras buffes from Paris, Strauss’s work was merciless in the way it held up a mirror to the bourgeois salon-going public - and many audience members recognised themselves in the absurd antics onstage.

In German language with German and English surtitles

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Additional information
Operetta in three actsLibretto by Karl Haffner and Richard GenéeFirst performed on 5th April 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in ViennaPremiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 28th April 2018

Recommended from 13 years on

BackgroundSome years ago Dr Falke and his friend Gabriel von Eisenstein were invited to a ball. Afterwards Eisenstein left Falke lying in a park, completely drunk and dressed as a bat. Falke had to walk home in his costume, an object of ridicule. He has been bent on revenge ever since. Act I: The Eisensteins' homeThe Eisensteins' domestic, Adele, has been invited by her sister Ida to Prince Orlofsky's ball. She searches for an excuse to get the evening off. That suits her employer, Rosalinde von Eisenstein, just fine – her former lover Alfred has just turned up. Eisenstein himself has to go to prison that evening for insulting an official. His lawyer Dr Blind has managed through sheer incompetence to get the sentence lengthened to eight days. Falke says he wants to "cheer up" Eisenstein and invites him to Orlofsky's ball. Once husband and wife have said goodbye to each other, Rosalinde lets Alfred in. They are surprised together by the prison director, Frank, who has come to arrest Eisenstein in person. Alfred is obliged to pretend he is Eisenstein to avoid attracting unwelcome attention. Act II: Party at Prince Orlofsky's houseFor Falke, the ball at Orlofsky's house is a chance to exact revenge with a "little dramatic joke". He has invited not only Eisenstein, but also Rosalinde, the housemaid and even the prison director. He plans to humiliate Eisenstein in front of everyone. Adele has come as an aspiring actress called Olga, Eisenstein as Marquis Renard and the prison director as Chevalier Chagrin. Falke announces a surprise guest, an ominous Hungarian countess – Rosalinde in disguise. Eisenstein tries to seduce the supposed countess. Rosalinde manages to get hold of Eisenstein's instantly recognizable repeating watch to serve as evidence. Eisenstein recounts with relish the story of the bat, alias Falke. There's drinking and merrymaking and Falke calls on everyone to drop all formality. Eisenstein almost manages a glimpse behind Rosalinde's mask, but then the clock summons him [and Frank] to prison. Act III: In prisonThe prison guard, Frosch, has some trouble dealing with the perpetually singing Eisenstein, alias Alfred, and with his own shortcomings. Frank, the prison director, feels the worse for all that partying. Adele and Ida come to see him, hoping for his patronage. Eisenstein has arrived to begin his prison sentence, but discovers that he's already behind bars. To find out what he can about the false Eisenstein, he decides to take the place of Dr Blind, who has just turned up as well. Rosalinde comes to warn Alfred. There are confrontations and various recognition scenes. The Eisensteins realize they came close to committing adultery the night before. They all agree: "Champagne was to blame!"

Pre-performance lecture (in German): 45 minutes prior to each performance
Participating artists
Yi-Chen Lin (Musikalische Leitung)
Rolando Villazón (Inszenierung)
Johannes Leiacker (Bühne)
Thibault Vancraenenbroeck (Kostüme)
Davy Cunningham (Licht)
Philippe Giraudeau (Choreografie)
Wieland Hilker (Video)
Dorian Häfner (Video)
Jeremy Bines (Chöre)
Thomas Blondelle (Gabriel von Eisenstein)
Flurina Stucki (Rosalinde, Gabriels Frau)
Markus Brück (Frank, Gefängnisdirektor)
Karis Tucker (Prinz Orlofsky)
Jorge Puerta (Alfred, Gesangslehrer)
Philipp Jekal (Dr. Falke, Notar)
Jörg Schörner (Dr. Blind, Advokat)
Katerina von Bennigsen (Adele, Kammermädchen)
Kathleen Bauer (Ida)
Ingo Paulick (Frosch)
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Chöre)
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Orchester)
Opernballett der Deutschen Oper Berlin (Tanz)
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Deutsche Oper Berlin
Deutsche Oper Berlin