Words by Phil Park and Music by Johann Strauss
Mayflower Theatre,
March 1993
Cast List
Rosalinda Eisenstein
Gabriel Eisenstein
Doctor Faike
Prince Orlofsky
Doctor Blint
Head Butler

Notes on this performance

78. Die Fledermaus       

So many mistakes…

After the previous year’s artistic and financial success with Carmen, the Committee (now led by Pam de Grouchy) was naturally keen to perform another opera at the Mayflower. Discussions with the theatre led them to believe that the next best selling in that genre was Die Fledermaus, though it came with the warning that it would most probably only sell at about 60% of Bizet’s masterpiece.

Carol Cherrett (from The Maskers) was appointed as Director and Allen Mansell as the MD. The former recommended that a set and the many costumes required for the show should be hired and, although these expenses had been mostly avoided in Carmen, the Committee agreed to her request. Meanwhile Allen had doubts that the ‘Southampton Operatic Society Orchestra’ had the necessary quality to perform Strauss’ music to a satisfactory standard and asked the Committee to consider employing the Bournemouth Philharmonic – much to his disappointment this was refused as the cost would have been closer to £20000 than the usual £2000.

Rehearsals were lively and well organised, though Allen was far more demanding of his performers than usual and was often visibly frustrated when the chorus was late with musical entries. Once in the Theatre, a long serving member of the ladies’ chorus complained that her dress was too heavy and added that her partner was too old – Carol’s reaction was to expel her from the show, a move that was not received particularly well backstage.

The show had a very strong principal line up and was very impressive musically. The Echo reported: ‘The plot is just an excuse for some fabulous singing, stunning sets and nice costumes. SOS, and its orchestra, carries the audience on waves of waltzes, polkas and love songs, as the story unfolds with Hazel Killham (Rosalinda Eisenstein), Richard Steel (Gabriel Eisenstein), Paul Webb (Dr. Falke), Barbara Howells (Adéle) and Angela Mackie (Prince Orlofsky) showing the singing strength.’

However, ticket sales were very disappointing and nowhere near the anticipated 60% of Carmen. Carol suggested that Radio Solent Broadcaster, Richard Cartridge, should be employed to ‘do a turn’ during the ballroom scene on the Saturday evening in the hope that a) he would advertise the show on his programme and b) his followers would come in large numbers to see him perform. Sadly, this plan did not produce the anticipated results. Richard Cartridge’s speciality act was an impersonation of Dame Edna Everage which, although good, was not really appropriate for the occasion and, worse still, Frank Zaragoza’s solo in the Ballroom Scene was dropped to make room for it (he had apparently sold 20 tickets to friends who were coming to see the show that night) - the company was then on the verge of mutiny!

Die Fledermaus was a good show but a financial disaster, making a loss of £10552, which was a huge disappointment to all involved. Surely a future Committee could not make the same mistakes again? 

Terry O'Farrell

Photo of Chris Milne

Christopher Milne (Alfred) with Hazel Kilham (Rosalinda Eisenstein)

Photo of Ball

Front: Richard Steel (Gabriel Eisenstein), Paul Webb (Doctor Faike), Angela Mackie (Prince Orlofsky)

Photo of Frank

Frank Zaragoza as Pavarotti! To his right Hazel Kilham (Rosalinda Eisenstein) - standing, Paul Webb (Doctor Faike) and Barbara Howells (Adele) - both seated