Die Fledermaus | Cahn Auditorium, Northwestern University | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

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When: Dec. 28-Jan. 1 2017

Johann Strauss's 1874 operetta takes the form of a farce about a bourgeois married couple, Rosalinda and Eisenstein, who get their chance to sample the aristocratic decadence of belle epoque Vienna. One way to make the premise interesting might be to suggest the socially and materially catastrophic risk each one is running, so we're aware of the stakes. Another might be to go cynical, satirizing the class conflicts, the geopolitical arrangements—the radical 1 percentism—that would culminate 40 years later in World War I. Or you could focus on the arrogance and violence of Eisenstein himself, who's just about to report to prison for assaulting a police officer. There's any number of themes to be found in the material. But, working from Quade Winter's English adaptation, director Rudy Hogenmiller rejects them all. His Light Opera Works staging is nothing more than goofy, with anachronistic references to Gershwin tunes, a sitcom Rosalinda and Eisenstein, and a long, long turn by Tim Kazurinsky as an alcoholic jailer. The result is visually attractive (particularly Adam Veness's art nouveau sets) and musically well performed (thanks to excellent singers and conductor Roger L. Bingaman's 30-piece orchestra), but dull. For three hours. —Tony Adler

Price: $34-$98

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