The Southampton Guide recently visited The Mayflower Theatre to watch Die Fledermaus Johann Strauss II, Welsh National Opera. It is centred around an extravagant ball and the events of Die Fledermaus are set to a rich, romantic score by Johann Strauss II featuring some of the most irresistible melodies ever written for the stage.

Opera is not everyone’s cup of tea but often, after seeing a performance, perceptions are changed and with the phenomenal autumn season programme by the Welsh National Opera (WNO) now is the time to pop your opera cherry!

WNO are quiet clearly an extremely talented group of performers and Die Fledermause is a very accessible operetta, filled with humour, fun and a plot where no one dies!

Expect to giggle! 

Yes truly – Die Fledermause is an opera that makes you laugh; the joy of watching the performance unfold, and the story of a practical joker getting his own back is something that transcends across most people’s lives. Tim Rhys-Evans who began his career with WNO sums it up nicely “Opera has always been relevant to us because from its roots in 16th century Italy onwards – opera has always been about us and how we live our lives”.

Visual feast

The amazing scenery and of course the full orchestral pit are a delight. The musical overture gives a flavour of every scene to come and  Johann Strauss II musical score takes you to Vienna where most viewers will know the tunes, if not the composer, the period, or their importance.

The WNO set design (by Tim Reed) and the costumes (Deirdre Clancy) ensures the stage feels the grandure of the Vienna. The set changes are impressive, the costumes were completely over the top and fabulous for the party sequence where everyone blames their behaviour on ‘too much champagne’.

The cast

The interesting element of this operetta is that the humour covered in the songs and then in the acting. Frosh the Gaoler is usually played by a comic actor and in this WNO season Steve Speirs treads the boards (better know for his TV work as Big Al in Stella). The Gaoler role was given ad-lib opportunity and Steve breaks the forth wall by addressing the audience with jokes about opera.

Anyone visiting The Mayflower in Southampton to see the WNO will leave feeling joyful and that they have experienced something unexpected. Die Fledermause  proves that opera is not stuffy, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and WNO proved that this combination could be done.

Catch up with season. #WNOFledermaus

Check out the five Myths on Opera on You tube: