Strauss (Johann): Die Fledermaus - Janowitz, Wächter, Kmentt, Brendel, Fassbaender, Malone, Schenk; C. Kleiber. München, 1975
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Die Fledermaus has become so routine at opera houses during the holiday season that it is easy to forget the brilliance of Strauss’ energetic score. Fortunately, Carlos Kleiber and the forces of the Bavarian State Opera go a long way in reaffirming this work’s enduring power in this recording. I find myself a bit at a loss in describing Carlos Kleiber’s approach. The vitality he brings to this score cannot be summed up in terms of tempo, articulation or rubato. There is an intangible magic that he imbues into the score that transcends description using any musical terminology that I have ever come across. Gundula Janowitz is an ideal Rosalinde offering spot-on coloratura, vocal heft and Viennese authenticity to the proceedings. Eberhard Wächter is a debonaire Eisenstein although he is forced to rewrite some of the notes to accommodate his still virile baritone. Waldemar Kmentt’s Alfred is remarkably sung. Wolfgang Brendel nearly steals the show during the “Brüderlein” ensemble in Act II. Brigitte Fassbaender delivers a formidable Orlofsky. German speakers will also appreciate the comic timing of Otto Scheck as Frosch. The sound is very good.