Excerpt: “I’m no maid” (Movement 2)
Instrumentation: Violin and Piano or Violin, Viola, Cello, Contrabass and Piano
Commission: Karen Murray
Karen Murray, Violin and Mary Kathleen Ernst, Piano
Old Cabell Auditorium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Fledermaus Fantasy, for violin and piano, was inspired by the sparkling tunes of Johann Strauss’s operetta, Die Fledermaus, and by the delightful tradition of such pieces as Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy. The story of Die Fledermaus is one of human foibles, with masquerades and mistaken identities. To make a long story short, the central couple, the von Eisensteins, betray each other. Rosalinde flirts with an old flame, while Gabriel attends a masked ball and attempts to seduce a delightful woman, who is actually his wife. Meanwhile, their chambermaid, Adele, is recognized by Gabriel, but she sings an aria that tells him in no uncertain terms why he is ridiculous for thinking so.
The operetta plays with the themes of masking, of social class, and of the fine line between delight and dispair. After the ball is over, there is a frothy series of misadventures that leads to the unmasking of the behavior of both Rosalinde and Gabriel and to a reconciliation between them. It also leads to a more hopeful future for Adele. I have composed Fledermaus Fantasy around four numbers from the operetta: the Introduction, Adele’s aria, the Czárdás that Rosalinde sings in her disguise as an exotic Hungarian, and the tick-tock tune that accompanies Gabriel’s attempt to seduce his own wife. Fledermaus Fantasy layers a virtuosic froth, extensions, and twisting inventions around the original melodies. Fledermaus Fantasy was premiered on a concert at the University of Virginia celebrating the 30th anniversary of the admission of women. –JS