College Brings Operatic Favorite 'Die Fledermaus' to Stage

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The College's production of the opera 'Die Fledermaus' promises mischievous fun for all.

Die Fledermaus Cast

You don’t have to be an opera expert to enjoy the College of Charleston’s performance of Die Fledrmaus.

As any opera fan will tell you, this unique art form offers something for everyone: a multi-artistic experience combining voices trained for singing while acting, orchestral music, dance and visual arts through costumes, lighting and sets.

But if you still if you think opera isn’t your thing, Die Fledermaus is the production for you. 

First of all, it’s in English – which, says music director and conductor Wojciech Milewski, makes it “really palatable for our locals’ ears. It’s going to be easy to take in, especially because so much of this show feels kind of like musical theater.

“It doesn’t even feel like you’re going to see some grand opera, even though that’s what it is,” he continues, adding that the songs will be familiar to many people. “It still feels really just homey. The melody makes sense, and you want more of those melodies.”

Watch CofC senior Meleana Cabales and music director Wojciech Milewski perform an excerpt from Die Fledermous on Fox 24’s Spotlight Music Series.

And then there’s the story itself. Rife with mistaken identities, flirtation, seduction and a lot of champagne, Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus tells the story of a practical joke with the unintended consequences of revenge and utter chaos.

“A colleague of mine called it a story of soft revenge, and that has stuck with me,” says the director Peter Spearman ’15, a visiting assistant professor of theatre. “It’s really fun and lighthearted. What I love the most about this show is the low stakes of everything, if that makes sense. Everything’s really playful.”

That’s one reason that Saundra DeAthos-Meers, associate director of the production and director of College of Charleston Opera, chose the opera for the College to perform alongside the musicians from the Charleston Symphony.

“Wojciech and I make the difficult decision of choosing a mainstage opera every year to share the stage with the Charleston Symphony,” she says, explaining: “This opera needs to be accessible, well-known and singable for 18- to 23-year-olds, not to mention you need to have the voices available to sing these challenging roles. Die Fledermaus is the perfect choice for this cohort.”

College of Charleston students from the Department of Music and the Department of Theatre and Dance are part of this co-production between CofC Stages and CofC Opera.

College of Charleston students working on the set for Die Fledermaus.

“We’re honored and thrilled to have the Charleston Symphony in the pit as our orchestra,” says Milewski. “But also, we’re so stoked to be collaborating between departments.”

“I think what’s been so exciting for me, as a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, is watching the theatre and dance students become more confident singers, and watching these opera students become more confident performers: this kind of cross-pollination of interests and skills. They’re really helping each other out, which is really beautiful to see,” says Spearman. “From lighting, sound, set, costumes and choreography, our students and faculty have meticulously planned each aspect of this production to bring it to life.”

Die Fledermaus will be brought to life in the College of Charleston Sottile Theatre (44 George St.) on Feb. 24 and 25 at 7 p.m. With discounts for CofC students, faculty/staff, military/veterans, seniors (60+) and youth (18 and under), tickets range from $15 to $50 and can be purchased at the George Street Box Office online at go.cofc.edu/opera, by emailing gsbo@cofc.edu or by calling 843.953.4726.

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