Lyric Theater soars high with ‘Die Fledermaus’

Butler Lyric Theater’s production of Johann Strauss’ opera “Die Fledermaus” —The Bat—promises to be a refreshing and modern take on the original.

Directing the show is John Schmid, adjunct instructor of lyric theater. Schmid is the Director of Music at nearby Fairview Presbyterian Church, and has been Course Master for the Indianapolis Opera for 27 seasons.

“We’ve decided to do a full operetta with piano instead of orchestra,” Schmid said.

There will be four performances because the show had to be double cast due to increased student enrollment and a high degree of student talent.

“The show is hilarious and the characters are outrageous,” senior vocal performance major Jackie Gredell said. “All the characters are so vivid and fantastic and it should be fun to watch.”

She said it has been enjoyable working with the talented and high- caliber cast, which was selected through a highly competitive audition process.

According to Schmid, rehearsal has involved a lot of individual coaching for each student’s role.

“We’ve been given a lot of free rein to develop our characters,” Gredell said.

“Die Fledermaus” originally premiered April 5, 1874. It is a lively, witty  three-act opera that follows the fortunes of Eisenstein, his wife Rosalind and their maid Adele.

These characters find themselves undergoing whimsical twists of plot, until finally the confusion comes to a favorable resolution.

“Even though the production was originally set in the 1870s, I moved it to the flapper era of the 1920s to update it and give it more style,” Schmid said.

Schmid said he treats his students as a mini opera company, employing several students in the production of the show. One of these students is junior music theory major Weston Bonczek, who is serving as stage manager. He said working with Schmid has been one of the best parts of the job.

“He’s a wonderful director and a great guy,” Bonczek said. “I’m really impressed with what Lyric Theater has been able to do this year.”

Senior vocal performance major Katy Merriman, who plays the part of Adele, agreed that the experience has been very positive so far.

“It’s been great working with [Schmid]. I think it’s great we’re doing something with dialogue and also something that’s a little lighter,” she said.

Merriman also hopes guests will enjoy the opera, not only because of its humor, but also because it’s being performed in English rather than its original German.

“The fact that it’s in English makes it accessible to many more people,” Bonczek said.

Sophomore vocal performance major Myles Pinder said he thinks people should not be afraid of opera.

“I think some people are scared of the connotations of opera, but this is not a traditional opera,” he said.

Much like the rest of the cast, he is enthusiastic about the upcoming performance and said he is honored to work with the musicians and singers.

Based on the recommendations of the cast and crew, “Die Fledermaus” should be interesting, entertaining and well-worth seeing.

“All things considered, it’s going to be a riot,” Gredell said.

“Die Fledermaus” will be performed at the Basile Opera Center at 4011 N. Pennsylvania St. April 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and April 16 and 17 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for students.

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