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Music by Johann Strauss
Text by Carl Haffner and Richard GenČe
Late Nineteenth Century
Rosalinde von Eisenstein is being serenaded through the windows of her home by Alfred, a former suitor who is a singer. As she listens, her maid Adele enters the salon, reading a letter from her sister Ida, who has invited Adele to join her at a party that night in the home of Prince Orlofsky. Adele asks Rosalinde for the evening off, creating a story that she needs to attend to a sick aunt. Unfortunately, Rosalinde's husband, Gabriel von Eisenstein, is due to spend a few days in jail for fighting with a police officer, and Rosalinde will not grant the time away, for she does not want to be alone, and she insists that her husband have a good meal before he leaves (duet: "Ach, ich darf nicht hin zu dir!"). After Adele leaves, Alfred tells Rosalinde that he is aware that Eisenstein will be away for a few days, and that he will visit again that night. She is shocked by his intentions to call on a married woman, and she sends him away. Eisenstein enters with his lawyer, Dr. Blind, whose tactics have managed to get Eisenstein a longer jail sentence than originally planned. Blind leaves, followed by Adele, who is sent off to get dinner, and Rosalinde who is off to look for old clothes that her husband might wear to jail. In the absence of the two ladies, Dr. Falke arrives and invites Eisenstein to that evening's party at Prince Orlofsky's villa. He suggests that Eisenstein start his jail sentence the next day, and even mentions that he should bring his repeater stopwatch that is known to charm the ladies ("Komm mit mir zum Souper"). Eisenstein agrees and dons appropriate evening attire for the occasion. When Rosalinde returns she is puzzled about her husband's wearing formal attire to jail, but pays little attention, as she is looking forward to Alfred's visit. With her husband gone and Alfred on the way, she grants Adele the night off, and serves Alfred the dinner that had been prepared for her husband. However, their evening is only to be interrupted by Prison Warden Frank, who has come to take Eisenstein away. Unable to admit that she was dining at such an hour with a man who is not her husband, she claims that Alfred is indeed Eisenstein, and Alfred is taken off to jail by the warden.
Upon her arrival at Prince Orlofsky's party, Adele joins her sister, and learns that Ida was not the person who sent her the invitation. Falke has actually invited her as a part of his scheme that he calls "The Bat's Revenge." This night he hopes to get even with Eisenstein for abandoning him in a park after a party at carnival, where Falke woke up the next morning alone, still dressed in his bat costume from the night before. Prince Orlofsky also hopes to be amused by this prank, and informs his guests that boredom will not be tolerated at his party ("Ich lade gern mir G”ste ein"). Eisenstein arrives and is announced with the alias of "Marquis Renard;" Adele is presented as the actress "Mlle. Olga." When introduced to each other, Eisenstein swears that he recognizes her as his maid wearing his wife's dress, but he is assured by the other guests that she is not an imposter. She then turns the tables and challenges his alias ("Mein Herr Marquis"). Frank also arrives at the party, disguised as "Chevalier Chagrin." Rosalinde arrives next, announced as a Hungarian countess, just in time to see her husband flirting with their maid. Eisenstein does not recognize the mysterious Countess as his wife when they are introduced, but tries to charm her with his watch (duet: "Dieser Anstand, so manierlich"). Just as he thinks that his charm is working, she takes his watch and then performs a Czardas to prove that she is Hungarian ("Die Kl”nge meiner Heimat"). Orlofsky proposes of toast of champagne, and suggests that everyone address each other casually and enjoy the spirit of the occasion. Eisenstein befriends Frank, and tries to unmask Rosalinde, but soon the clock strikes six, and he must report to jail.
Alfred passes the time in prison by singing, while Frosch, the drunken jailer, attempts to quiet him. Frank, who is also rather unsteady, arrives during this distraction, and is soon asleep, thinking of the night's events. Frosch brings in two visitors, Ida and Adele, to see the warden.. Adele, believing that Frank is a
wealthy nobleman, has come to request his help in establishing an acting career, and she shows off her talent ("Spiel' ich die Unschuld vom Lande"). Frank escorts the women to a waiting room as "Marquis Renard" arrives. The men reveal their true identities, but Frank does not believe that this man could be Eisenstein, for he has been accounted for in jail all night. Rosalinde arrives next, and as Frank leaves to bring her in, Eisenstein exchanges clothes with his lawyer Blind. The disguised Eisenstein questions Rosalinde and Alfred, and is enraged to discover that Alfred was apprehended during an intimate dinner with Rosalinde. Rosalinde retorts that she is the victim of a husband who lies about being with other women ("Es scheint mit fast, als empfinden Sie"). Eisenstein can bear this charade no longer, and reveals his identity to his wife ("Ja, ich bin's, den ihr betrogen"). As Rosalinde shows the watch she had taken, Eisenstein realizes that he has been caught in a scheme as well, as she was the "Hungarian Countess." Falke enters with the other guests from the previous night's party, and the plan of "The Bat's Revenge" is explained at last (ensemble: "So r”cht sich die Fledermaus"). Believing that the dinner between Alfred and Rosalinde was also part of that plan, Eisenstein forgives his wife and asks her forgiveness in return. Orlofsky pledges to support Adele's career, and Rosalinde leads the merriment with a toast to King Champagne.