This recording of Johann Strauss II's Die Fledermaus is the first made by Seefestspiele Mörbisch, or, in English, the Mörbisch Lake Festival. Mörbisch Lake is a picaresque Austrian town near the Hungarian border that hosts an annual operetta festival in an open-air amphitheater capable of seating 6,000 operetta lovers. The festival, under the artistic direction of Harald Serafin, is swiftly becoming the Bayreuth of the operetta world, attracting some 200,000 visitors annually, but the promoters still can see the value of recording their productions for the benefit of attracting more patrons.
Of course, Die Fledermaus is a monster in the world of operetta and many complete recordings have been made of it, the earliest one dating from 1907. This one was made in 1996 for the super-budget Arte Nova label. The Festival Orchestra Mörbisch under Rudolph Bibl isn't playing quite up to its usual crisp standard: it sounds a bit like the Cincinnati Symphony in a summer concert when all the best players are on vacation. But it doesn't really matter, as the rest of the performance is quite good, and when the band sticks to backing up the singers, it sounds fine. Soprano Ute Gfrerer in the part of Adele deserves singling out owing to her superb delivery of the Laughing Song, otherwise it is an engaging and serviceable performance of Die Fledermaus that captures one's attention and keeps it. The recorded sound is clear, direct, and immediate.
Of course, only a few dollars more will get you the famous recording of Die Fledermaus made in 1976 under Carlos Kleiber. But for those of us on a budget, this Seefestspiele Mörbisch performance is perfectly adequate. The Arte Nova package is, of this writing (in 2005), no longer available,
but this performance was re-released in 2003 on the Oehms Classics label.