Die Fledermaus, Framlingham

CHRISTOPHER SMITH The castle's walls gave shelter from even the slightest breeze, sunlight gave way to a wonderful cloudscape, and a large audience settled down with hampers and champers to enjoy one of the jolliest operettas ever.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

The castle's walls gave shelter from even the slightest breeze, sunlight gave way to a wonderful cloudscape, and a large audience settled down with hampers and champers to enjoy one of the jolliest operettas ever.

The plot is no miracle of contrivance. But it works perfectly as the frame for a succession of comical situations, and there are so many cues for Johann Strauss to invent catchy tunes that sweep away every reservation with their vitality.

This Wingfield Arts event was brought to its historic venue by the European Chamber Opera. The director was Terry John Bates, the conductor Emmanuel Siffert, and both coped with the inevitable difficulties of a one-off performance in the open air where bold effects and broad gestures were just what were called for.

Period costumes created atmosphere, distorting mirrors added bizarre dimensions to the stage, and the English translation was projected clearly so that we could all enjoy the jokes as well as follow the story.

In the role of the singer Alfred, Alexander James made a good stab at taking on all three World Cup tenors in a medley of snippets, Karen Foster showed her style as Orlovski, and Sally Anne Shepherdson put her soprano voice to good use as Rosalinde.

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The best moment came, however, not in the solos but in ensembles where characters and voices came together in musical forms that were given a little more opportunity to develop together.