Die Fledermaus (in English: The Bat;’ in French: La Chauve-souris’) is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Carl Haffner and Richard Genée.
Johann Strauss – Die Fledermaus Overture
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The original source for Die Fledermaus is a farce by German playwright Julius Roderich Benedix (1811–1873), Das Gefängnis (The Prison). Another source is a French vaudeville play, Le réveillon, by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. This was first translated by Carl Haffner into a non-musical play to be produced in Vienna. However, the peculiarly French custom of the réveillon (a midnight supper party) caused problems, which were solved by the decision to adapt the play as a libretto for Johann Strauss, with the réveillon replaced by a Viennese ball. At this point Haffner’s translation was handed over for adaptation to Richard Genée, who subsequently claimed not only that he had made a fresh translation from scratch but that he had never even met Haffner.
The operetta premièred on April 5, 1874 at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, Austria and has been part of the regular operetta repertoire ever since. It currently appears as number 19 on Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operatic works in North America.