The bat

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Die Fledermaus is an operetta by Johann Strauss . It was premiered in Vienna in 1874 ( Viennese operetta ) and is considered the highlight of the golden operetta era .

Work data
Original title: The bat
Original language: German
Music: Johann Strauss
Libretto : Karl Haffner , Richard Genée
Premiere: April 5, 1874
Place of premiere: Theater an der Wien
Playing time: about 2½ hours
  • Gabriel von Eisenstein ( tenor )
  • Rosalinde, Gabriel's wife ( soprano )
  • Frank, prison director ( bass )
  • Prince Orlofsky ( mezzo-soprano )
  • Alfred, singing teacher (tenor)
  • Dr. Falcon, notary ( baritone )
  • Dr. Blind, lawyer (tenor)
  • Adele, maid (soprano)
  • Ida, her sister (soprano)
  • Frog, bailiff (speaking role, comedian)
  • Prince's guests ( choir )
  • ballet
Scene from the bat (Düsseldorf Opera House, 1954)
Scene from the Bat (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, 2006)


first act

Gabriel von Eisenstein has to take a prison sentence for insulting an official. He likes to follow the advice of his friend Dr. Falke to amuse himself with Prince Orlofsky the night before. In reality, Dr. Falke proposed to return the favor of Eisenstein's earlier coup (the operetta was originally supposed to be called “Die Rache einer Fledermaus”, but this was shortened during the rehearsals). Rosalinde von Eisenstein likes to let her husband go when he supposedly goes to prison. She also released the maid Adele, who pretended to visit a sick aunt.

When everyone is gone, Alfred comes to have fun with Rosalinde. Unfortunately, the affair is disturbed by the prison director Frank, who wants to pick up Eisenstein: Out of consideration for Rosalinde, Alfred has no choice but to play her husband and have himself taken to prison.

Second act

In the garden salon with the young Prince Orlofsky, Dr. Falcon the prince that he will still have a lot to laugh about today. Eisenstein appears as “Marquis Renard”, Adele is introduced as the young artist Olga. She rejects Eisenstein's suspicion that she is his housemaid. Prison director Frank is introduced to society as "Chevalier Chagrin", and even Rosalinde, disguised as a Hungarian countess, appears - Dr. Falke had her come with the hint that her husband was there. She succeeds in stealing his pocket watch from Eisenstein, who is fascinated by her (who does not recognize her), which she needs in order to later prove his infidelity to her husband (whom she has of course recognized).

Tipsy from the champagne, Eisenstein tells all the guests how he once made Dr. Falke was embarrassed when he exposed him in his bat costume (they were at a masked ball) to the ridicule of market women and street boys.

Third act

In the early morning the heavily drunk Frank wants to start his job as prison director. The even more heavily drunk cell closer Frosch is supposed to report what has happened in the meantime, and uses this report for a more or less improvised parody of current local events. This shows that Adele (with her sister Ida) followed Frank. Adele admits who she really is and asks the alleged Chevalier to have her trained for the stage. Now Eisenstein also appears, who wants to begin his sentence and now learns from Frosch that he, Eisenstein, was brought in yesterday. But it turns out that his doppelganger is none other than Alfred ; And when Rosalinde also appears, Eisenstein sees through the relationship between Alfred and his wife, but becomes meek when Rosalinde shows him the watch that she took from him in the form of the "Hungarian Countess" at Orlofsky's party.

Finally the whole party meets with Prince Orlofsky and Dr. Hawk a. Now it becomes clear: The entire production was the successful "Revenge of the Bat" Falke. The lusciously amused prince promises Adele to promote her as a patron .

Roles and cast

The male lead, Gabriel von Eisenstein , is opposed to the two equal female lead roles Rosalinde and Adele . The speaking parts and vocal difficulty of the three main roles are roughly equivalent. The role of Eisenstein was written by Strauss for a play tenor , although some important baritones have also recorded the role. The role of Adele is a classic soubrette .

The most important supporting roles are Dr. Falke (aka the bat ), the tenor Alfred , the prison director Frank , the bailiff Frosch and Prince Orlofsky . The latter was created by Johann Strauss as a trouser role for a mezzo-soprano , in some productions the role is also sung by a tenor.

In addition to the vocal soloists, the work is composed of a four-part choir and a symphony orchestra with 2 flutes (2nd with piccolo ), 2 oboes , 2 clarinets , 2 bassoons , 4 horns , 2 trumpets , 3 trombones , timpani , percussion and strings ( violins 1, Violins 2, violas , cellos , double basses ).

Cast of the premiere

  • Gabriel von Eisenstein: Jani Szika
  • Rosalinde: Marie Geistinger
  • Adele: Caroline Charles-Hirsch
  • Ida, Adele's sister: Jules
  • Alfred: Hans Rüdiger
  • Dr. Falcon: Ferdinand Lebrecht
  • Dr. Blind: Carl Matthias Rott
  • Frank: Carl Adolf Friese
  • Prince Orlofsky: Irma Nittinger
  • Frog: Alfred Schreiber

Musical numbers


1st act

  • No. 1a, Introduction - "Little pigeon that has fluttered" (Alfred, Adele)
  • No. 1b, Duettino - "Oh, I am not allowed to go to you" (Rosalinde, Adele)
  • No. 2, trio - "No, with such lawyers" (Eisenstein, Rosalinde, Blind)
  • No. 3, duet - "Come to supper with me" (Dr. Falke, Eisenstein)
  • No. 4, trio - "So I have to stay alone" (Rosalinde, Adele, Eisenstein)
  • No. 5, Finale I - " Drink, love, drink quickly " (Alfred, Rosalinde, Frank)

2nd act

  • No. 6, choir and ensemble - "A supper today beckons us" (choir)
  • No. 7, couplet - "I like to invite guests" (Orlofsky)
  • No. 8, ensemble and couplet - "Oh, my lords and ladies" / "My lord Marquis" (Orlofsky, Dr. Falke, Ida, Adele, Eisenstein, choir)
  • No. 9, duet - "This decency, so well mannered" (Eisenstein, Rosalinde)
  • No. 10, Csárdás - "Sounds of Home" (Rosalinde)
  • No. 11a, Finale II - Ensemble and choir "In the stream of fire of the vines" (Orlofsky, Eisenstein, Rosalinde, Frank, Dr. Falke, Adele, Ida, choir)
  • No. 11b, Finale II - Ballet, “Marianka, come and dance with me” (choir) [No. 11b is regularly deleted in performances and recordings and replaced by another ballet.]
  • No. 11c, Finale II - Ensemble and choir "Enough with it, enough!" (Orlofsky, Eisenstein, Frank, Rosalinde, Dr. Falke, Adele, Ida, choir)

3rd act

  • No. 12, Entr'acte
  • No. 13, melodrama - "Olga come here, Ida too" (Frank)
  • No. 14, Couplet - "I play innocence from the country" (Adele, Ida, Frank)
  • No. 15, trio - "I am full of trepidation" (Rosalinde, Alfred, Eisenstein)
  • No. 16, Finale III - "O Fledermaus, o Fledermaus" (Eisenstein, Dr. Falke, Orlofsky, Adele, Alfred, Rosalinde, Frank, Ida, Blind, Choir)

History of origin

The libretto of the operetta goes back to the comedy in four acts Das Prison by the Leipzig writer Roderich Benedix . From this, the comedy Le Réveillon by the French duo of authors Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy emerged . In France, Réveillon refers to the feast on Christmas Eve, which can certainly get out of hand (a similar feast plays a role in the second act of Giacomo Puccini's opera La Bohème ). Karl Haffner edited the motifs and content , although his model turned out to be unsuitable for music. The Vienna-based librettist Richard Genée expanded this template into a compact piece suitable for operettas. In particular, he made a lavish party at a Russian grand prince the focus of the work around which the intrigues of Eisenstein and Falke develop.

The main parts of the music are said to have been composed within 42 days in the summer of 1873 in Strauss' apartment at the time (1870–1878) at Maxingstrasse 18 in Hietzing (13th district of Vienna since 1892), with Strauss mainly appearing as the originator of the melodies stepped while Genée carried out much of the instrumentation. A piece of music from the new work was first presented to the Viennese audience at a charity concert in October 1873, this was the Csárdás from Act II. This and the overture are the only musical parts that were composed entirely by Johann Strauss.

Because of the great success of this Csárdás performance, the world premiere of the entire operetta was pushed ahead quickly, but had to be postponed several times as a result of the economic crisis that had broken out in the meantime (“ Gründerkrach ”). It finally took place on April 5, 1874, under the musical direction of the composer, in the Theater an der Wien . According to later claims, it was not a “sensational success” in Vienna, but in reality it met with approval from the public and the press. By 1888, another 199 performances followed in the same theater. In other cities, however, the recording was considerably better, at the same time it had already been performed over 300 times in Berlin at a later start time.

The first performance in an opera house took place in 1894 under the direction of Gustav Mahler in the Stadt-Theater Hamburg (State Opera) .


Austrian 5 euro silver coin (2015)

Along with the Gypsy Baron and One Night in Venice, Die Fledermaus is one of the three most famous Strauss operettas and also one of the few operettas that are regularly performed at major international opera houses (mostly on New Year's Eve and during Carnival).

The main reason for this is the extremely subtle, rousing and masterfully orchestrated composition. Highlights are the clock duet (Rosalinde / Gabriel von Eisenstein), the csárdás , the aria of Prince Orlofsky, the aria Mein Herr Marquis (Adele) and the choral waltz Little Brother and Sister - You and You in Act Two.

The text is catchy and full of irony with timeless truths. The ensemble "Little Brothers and Sisters" can once again serve as evidence:

"Little brothers / little brothers and sisters / Let this you dare give us / For eternity / Always like today / If we think about it tomorrow."

The overture , which, written in the free sonata main movement form , is one of the greatest works by Johann Strauss , occupies a special position . It sums up the numerous musical highlights of the entire work and, with its varied dynamics, is always a challenge even for top orchestras.

In 1999, as part of the New Johann Strauss Complete Edition, a two-volume new edition of Fledermaus was published with the revised musical text and the post-composed “New Csárdás” as well as the genesis, revision report and libretto.

Musical re-use

Independent works were then created based on motifs from this operetta, which are marked in his catalog raisonné with the opus numbers 362 and 363 as well as 365 to 368. These are the following works:

  • Fledermaus-Polka , Opus 362 (first performance February 10, 1874, Sophiensaal)
  • Fledermaus-Quadrille , Opus 363 (first performance between April and June 1874)
  • Tik-Tak-Polka , Fast Polka, Opus 365 (first performance September 6, 1874, Schwender's Neue Welt, Hietzing)
  • An der Moldau , Polka française, Opus 366 (first performance October 25, 1874, Great Hall of the Wiener Musikverein )
  • Du und Du , Walzer, Opus 367 (according to the standards of today's copyright law: Du and Du, waltz by Eduard Strauss based on motifs from the operetta “Die Fledermaus”, published under the name of his brother as op. 367 ) (first performance as a bat waltz on August 2, 1874 in Schwender's Neue Welt, Hietzing, with the title Du und Du on September 6, 1874, also Schwender's Neue Welt, Hietzing)
  • Happy is he who forgets! , Polka Mazurka, Opus 368 (first performances in summer 1874)

Csarda's works from “Die Fledermaus” and Neuer Csardas for “Die Fledermaus” were also created without an opus number . The ballet music , seldom played in the operetta , also appeared as an independent work.


It is almost completely forgotten that around 1879 there were efforts to persuade Johann Strauss to continue the operetta. Leon Treptow wrote the libretto for this. After Strauss finally refused (he then composed the operetta " The Queen's Lace Scarf"), "Prince Orlofsky" was finally set to music by Carl Alexander Raida and had its world premiere on April 8, 1882 in the Viktoria Theater in Berlin . At best, the “Prinz Orlofsky Waltz” is known from it. After 23 performances, the work was taken off the program and does not seem to have seen another performance.

Recordings (selection)

Film adaptations

Film adaptations of the operetta:


  • Wilhelm Zentner (Ed.): Johann Strauss: Die Fledermaus . Reclam, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 978-3-15-008260-7 .
  • Oswald Panagl and Fritz Schweiger: The bat. The real story of an operetta . Böhlau, Vienna 1999, ISBN 3-205-99087-0 .

Web links

Commons : Die Fledermaus  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

References and footnotes

  1. The name Alfred for Rosalinde's lover is Verdi's La traviata modeled
  2. At this point there is a deliberate amount of space for the respective staging.
  3. ^ The prison , Cöln 1851,
  4. ^ La Réveillon , comédie en trois actes, Paris 1872,
  5. ^ Maxingstrasse in the Vienna History Wiki of the City of Vienna
  6. Information on the new edition of the score in the Strauss Edition Vienna ( Memento from December 7, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  7. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (Ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 586-588 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or . these are lost, the voices come from Georg Kraus.
  8. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (Ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 588-591 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or . these are lost, the score is by Michael Wodopivetz.
  9. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (Ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 594-596 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or . these have been lost, the first score that can be dated is from 1902.
  10. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (Ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 596-598 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or . these are missing, voices by Holzinger (undated).
  11. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (Ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 598–601 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or . these have been lost, various partial editions (undated). The sole authorship of his brother can be proven on the basis of a correspondence, including the use of that by Johann Strauss , so the arrangement was - as it were - authorized.
  12. Vienna Institute for Strauss Research (ed.): Strauss Elementar Directory , Hans Schneider, Tutzing 2013, ISBN 978-3-86296-054-5 , pp. 602–603 with a note that no autographs and sketches are known or .these are lost. It can be assumed that this P.-M. was composed by Josef Schrammel for his sextet, this original score has been preserved.
  13. Peter Kemp: "Fledermaus" - the continuation In: Wiener Bonbons , magazine of the Johann Strauss Society Vienna. Part 1 in volume 4/1999, pp. 15-18, part 2 in volume 1/2000, pp. 15-17. The same wording also in: Deutsche Johann Strauss Gesellschaft (Ed.): "New Life" - Bulletin of the German Johann Strauss Society , Issue 27 (2000), pp. 26–34. ISSN  1438-065X .
  14. ^ According to the Lexicon of International Films