Mistaken identity, disguise and decadence - Royal Sutton Opera and producer Andrew Gallacher have given this classic operetta cocktail a good shake, and delivered a thoroughly enter-taining version of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus which could well stand as an exemplar of good amateur performance.
Scenery was simple and effective (Eisenstein's home was transformed to Prince Orlofsky's with a single turn of the flats), the standard operatic society imbalance between sexes in the chorus was over-come by the relative strength of the men's voices and (visually) by good staging and a bit of cross-dressing, and all performances were polished. Ian Gledhill's excellent English translation of the libretto was well-chosen, and even the unexpected cabaret combination of Barnum, the midget General Tom Thumb and Jenny Lind (substituting for the ballet) worked in the drunken context of the party scene.
The production also made the most of its talents. Lesley Edwards (parlour maid Adele) was first on stage, and with her compelling vocal warmth and control, superb diction and flawless comic timing, was a hard act to follow.
Her master Einstein (Mark Ellse) and mistress Rosalind (Alison Charlton-West) found it more difficult to project convincingly over the orchestra, but the latter was significantly more forceful in disguise as the Hungarian countess, and together they made a strong team with an authoritative Dr Falke (John Barratt) and John Kiefert, as an affable prison governor.
Alan Hazel sang seductively as Rosalind's suitor Alfred, and Amanda Pyke certainly looked the part as the louche Prince Orlofsky.
Despite some untidy moments, musical director Tony Ayres' feisty orchestra played its role at the heart of this work confidently, capturing its lively, affectionate spirit beautifully.
* Repeated tomorrow and Saturday, 7.15 pm.