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Die Fledermaus

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Die Fledermaus

by Karl Haffner

Genre: Operetta
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: 60 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


Strauss’ “Die Fledermaus,” or “The Bat,” is founded upon Meilhac and Halévy’s “Le Revillon.” In music it is Viennese; in dramatic effect, it is French. The scene opens with Adele, maid of the Baroness Rosalind, seeking permission to visit her sister Ida, a ballet-dancer, who is to be at a masked ball given by Prince Orlofsky, a Russian millionaire. She receives permission, and after she has gone, Dr. Falke, a notary, who has arranged the ball, calls at the house of the Baron Eisenstein, and induces him to go to it before going to jail, to which he has been sentenced for contempt of court. The purpose of the doctor is to seek revenge for his shabby treatment by the Baron some time before at a masquerade which they had attended,–Eisenstein dressed as a butterfly, and Falke as a bat. The doctor then notifies the Baroness that her husband will be at the ball. She thereupon decides that she will also be present. An amusing scene occurs when the Baron seeks to pass himself off as a French marquis, and pays his devotions to the ladies, but is quite astonished to find his wife there, flirting with an old lover. There are further complications caused by Falke, who manages to have Alfred, the singing-master, in the Baroness’ apartments when the sheriff comes to arrest the Baron, and arrests Alfred, supposing him to be Eisenstein. In the last act, however, all the complications are disentangled, and everything ends happily.


Light offstage backstory sets up a context for a big masked ball party.  Useful perhaps if you’re looking for a backdrop for a concert or a series of unrelated musical numbers or actor-showpieces, but not much else here.


A word of caution:  This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation.  You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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