Die Fledermaus doesn’t need the greatest singers in the world, the greatest instrumentalists in the world or the most lavish of sets. What it does need, in keeping with the champagne theme that runs through the operetta, is fizz and sparkle. And in the overture at Opera Holland Park, that’s exactly what John Rigby and the City of London Sinfonia gave us, gambolling through the cascade of tunes with energy and definition. Rigby is interesting to watch: strict time from the baton; encouragement and verve from a wide range of facial expressions.

Ben Johnson (Eisenstein), Robert Burt (Dr Blind) and Susanna Hurrell (Rosalinde) © Robert Workman
Ben Johnson (Eisenstein), Robert Burt (Dr Blind) and Susanna Hurrell (Rosalinde)
© Robert Workman

The energy was transmitted to the stage and maintained through all of Act I. Director Martin Lloyd-Evans and designer takis move the opera forward a few years into the Art Deco period, which works well in producing something that’s suitably plutocratic and watchable within the space and budget constraints of Holland Park’s stage. The singing is vivacious and the acting is good – given that this is an opera where a generous dollop of overacting is pretty much essential. Alistair Beaton’s 1994 verse translation helps, forgoing any attempt at textual accuracy in the service of humorous word setting and an endless stream of rhyming gags.

Beaton takes the opportunity to stuff the lyrics of Alfred the Latin Lover with Italian, which Peter Davoren delivers with gusto and sleaze. Susanna Hurrell is a sweet-voiced Rosalinde who veers between imperious bitchiness (when dealing with her maid Adèle) and somewhat hapless confusion (when dealing with everyone else). Top honours go to Gavan Ring as Dr Falke, with the vocal presence to ensure that all eyes and ears are drawn to him as he masterminds the comedy. The jokes come out thick and fast, as do Strauss’ delicious melodies.the baton; encouragement and verve from a wide range of facial expressions.

Jennifer France (Adele) © Robert Workman
Jennifer France (Adele)
© Robert Workman

After the interval, however, Prince Orlofsky’s ball disappoints. At this point, Die Fledermaus is no longer an ensemble piece: it needs a couple of knockout arias, first from Orlofsky (Samantha Price) and then from Rosalinde (in her guise as the Hungarian Countess). Price and Hurrell were adequate, but you couldn’t have described either performance as “knockout”. The Czardas was a rare conducting miscue from Rigby, with the tempo held slow for far too long, the acceleration too little and too late. Jennifer France, however, delivers a solid “Mein Herr Marquis”, as well as switching her accent amusingly between Home Counties and Yorkshire. And things pick up again for the seduction duet between Rosalinde and Ben Johnson’s Eisenstein. Lloyd-Evans’ staging continued to entertain as the ball degenerates into a lot of people running around in their underwear. There's a splendidly executed burlesque dance of the giant-ostrich-plume variety by "Didi Derrière" (a stage name, I seriously hope).the baton; encouragement and verve from a wide range of facial expressions.

Susanna Hurrell (Rosalinde) and Samantha Price (Orlofsky) © Robert Workman
Susanna Hurrell (Rosalinde) and Samantha Price (Orlofsky)
© Robert Workman

Much as is done for the Lord High Executioner’s “Little list” song in The Mikado, productions of Fledermaus invariably make the jailer Frosch’s monologues into the opportunity for topical gags, and Brexit has provided a rich seam for these for Ian Jervis: Frosch’s inmates include Gove, in for knife crime (with his wife’s fingerprints rumoured to be on the knife), Cameron, charged with recklessly endangering the public – that’s enough spoilers, you get the idea. And the third act farce proceeds entertainingly enough, but with a sweltering evening and temperatures still in the thirties, the energy of Act I wasn’t maintained. The visual gags continue to be great: in a night where subtlety isn't long on the menu, there's a delightfully understated slow motion choreography as Frosch endeavours with increasing desperation to return a coat to his sozzled boss Frank.

Throughout the evening, Rigby exuded enjoyment of the madcap fun of the piece, and I can’t but agree: Die Fledermaus may be schmaltz, it may be lowbrow, but I love it to bits. And Opera Holland Park’s rendering has a lot going for it.