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OCU's 'Die Fledermaus' flaps with tale of masquerades, mistaken identity, revenge



0" />Oklahoma City University's Oklahoma Opera & Music Theater Company stages its last show of 2009 with the three-act comedic opera "Die Fledermaus" by Vienna's waltz king, Johann Strauss II. Among the most popular operas in North America, "Die Fledermaus" ("The Bat," in German) both celebrates and satirizes the wealthy, pleasure-seeking bourgeoisie of 19th-century Austria.

This production marks the directorial debut of Karen Coe Miller, the newly appointed assistant director of the company. She said she's thrilled to join the OCU faculty and that the position is a great fit for her experience and interests in working in a variety of theater productions.

"I'm very impressed by the talent pool at OCU. It is exciting to work with a group of students with a wide range of experience and watch them learn from one another," Miller said.

"Die Fledermaus" begins with Gabriel von Eisenstein being enticed by his friend Dr. Falke to attend a ball in disguise. The opera takes its name from the bat costume Falke wears.

"Throughout the night, Eisenstein is placed in one embarrassing situation after another. After the ball, Gabriel leaves Falke in the street in a drunken stupor. But revenge is sweet!" said Miller, describing the plot twist.

That revenge comes in the form of a practical joke on Eisenstein arranged by Falke.

Miller said she enjoys the opera's subplot focusing on the marriage of Eisenstein and Rosalinde, a couple complacent after years of marriage.

"Both are tempted out of their complacency by the end of Act 1, and the rest of the story is filled with flirtation, jealousy, revenge and, finally, reconciliation," she said.

She said directing this type of opera requires balancing farce and elegance.

"Many of the situations are outrageous and yet the characters need to maintain the grace of late 19th-century Vienna," Miller said. "The actors need to have fun with their characters, not make fun of their characters."

She said the "Fledermaus" cast is strong, especially considering it's largely filled by undergraduate acting students. She said they have been extremely creative in their efforts to get their peers interested in the show, including shooting and posting quirky video interviews on the Bass School of Music's Facebook page to promote it. One such video features OCU students being asked what they think "Die Fledermaus" means, with fairly amusing results.

Miller said that the production is also supported by very talented faculty designers, including Debra Hicks (sets), Billie Boston (costumes) and recent OCU graduate Kortney Konrath (lighting). The production will be performed in English, using a translation by Marcie Stapp.

"This is a wonderfully detailed translation that follows the original German text very closely. I've enjoyed the specificity and wit of her lyrics," said Miller, who will give a free talk 45 minutes before each show.

Die Fledermaus stages at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday presented by Oklahoma Opera &

Music Theater Company at the Kirkpatrick Auditorium at Oklahoma City University.

"?Eric Webb


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