Following the universal success of his dance music, Johann Strauss turned his attention to operetta. Die Fledermaus was one of his finest efforts, in which he created a sparkling masterpiece that premiered to instant acclaim on the Vienna stage in 1874.
Alfred is still in love with the Rosalinde, now the wife of Gabriel von Eisenstein, and tries to serenade her. Rosalinde resists, but melts on hearing his high A. The suitor leaves as Eisenstein arrives from court: he has been sentenced to a fortnight in jail for a civil offence. Falke, a friend, slips in and invites Eisenstein to a masquerade so he can accumulate pleasant memories before his confinement in jail. Rosalinde receives the ardent Alfred, but their tête-à-tête is interrupted by the warden Frank, who mistakes Alfred for the man he has come to arrest. Rosalinde persuades Alfred to save her name by posing as her husband, and Frank carts him off to jail.
In an antechamber at the palace, Rosalinde arrives disguised as a Hungarian countess and is soon wooed by her own husband, whose pocket watch she steals to hold as proof of his philandering. Champagne flows, and the guests dance wildly until dawn. When the clock strikes six, Eisenstein staggers off to keep his appointment at the jail.
Frank arrives at the prison, still giddy with champagne. Hearing someone at the door, he admits Eisenstein, who has come to begin his sentence. The new prisoner is surprised to learn his cell is already occupied by a man who claims to be Eisenstein and who was found supping with Rosalinde! Rosalinde herself then hurries in to secure Alfred's release and press divorce charges against her husband. Enraged, Eisenstein accuses his wife of promiscuity, at which Rosalinde whips forth the watch she took from him at the ball. All is pronounced to have been a joke, and Orlofsky and his guests celebrate the reconciliation of Rosalinde and Eisenstein. This is the Schirmer edition of the Libretto in English only.