Thursday, December 30, 2010

Opera Thursday

What better opera to look at for my final Opera Thursday of the year that Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus.

Now, Die Fledermaus ("The Bat") doesn't really have anything to do with the New Year - it's a comedy about mistaken identity, practical jokes, and huge misunderstandings, all against the backdrop of a masquerade ball. How then, you may ask, did it wind up becoming a New Year's tradition? In addition to the lightheartedness of the story, it's probably due to lyrics such as "Glücklich ist, wer vergisst, was doch nicht zu ändern ist..." ("Happy is he who forgets what can't be changed..."), as this site suggests. The masked ball is also evocative of the New Year's Eve party, which has helped make this operetta a New Year's favorite not only in Strauss' home of Vienna, but in opera houses throughout the world.

Frequently, the New Year's Eve performance will feature cameo appearances by big-name stars from the non-opera as well as the opera world (last year's Washington D.C. performance featured Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, striking a greater blow for bipartisanship than anything the president has done lately), and a genial, party atmosphere. For this video clip, we've got a 1994 performance by the Vienna State Opera, featuring Karita Mattila and Hermann Prey. Ulf Schirmer conducts the Vienna State Opera Orchestra.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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