Show dates: 1980
Central Florida, New Year’s Eve, 1899. Alfred is heard serenading his old flame Rosalinda, who is now married to Gabriel von Eisenstein. Adele, Rosalinda’s maid, wonders how to get the night off to attend a glamorous New Year’s Eve party hosted by the eccentric Prince Orlofsky. She tells Rosalinda she must visit a sick aunt, but Rosalinda refuses to let her go. Alfred appears to woo Rosalinda, who resists and hearing someone coming, she sends Alfred away. Eisenstein and his lawyer, Blind, arrive from a session in court.
Eisenstein has been sentenced to eight days in jail for striking a police officer and must begin his term that very night. He furiously dismisses Blind. However, his friend Falke arrives and urges Eisenstein to delay going to jail until morning and instead join him at Prince Orlofsky’s party. Eisenstein agrees to go, and while he changes, Falke invites Rosalinde to the ball as well. He tells her that if she comes in disguise, she’ll be able to observe her husband flirting with other women. Angry at Eisenstein’s deception, she then tells Adele to go see her sick aunt and receives the persistent Alfred.
Their rendezvous is interrupted by the prison warden Frank, who has come to arrest Eisenstein on his way to Orlofsky’s ball. Rosalinde persuades Alfred to preserve her good name by posing as her husband, and Frank takes Alfred to jail instead of Eisenstein.
In Prince Orlofsky’s lavish ballroom, the guests gossip about their host, who has a habit of paying someone to try to make him laugh — usually in vain. Orlofsky doubts that Falke’s promised evening of entertainment will brighten his spirits, but proclaims his guests should behave however they want and do anything they like. Adele arrives — to the surprise of her sister Ida, a dancer in a hit musical show. Ida worries Adele will embarrass her among her chic friends, so they decide to present her as a Russian actress named Olga.
Eisenstein enters, posing as a Frenchman, per Falke’s instructions. Frank also arrives having dispatched Alfred to prison and is also posing as a Frenchman. He and Eisenstein become fast friends. Frank is so smitten with Ida and “Olga” that he pretends to be a theatrical producer to impress them. Rosalinde arrives, disguised as a Hungarian countess. Angry to spot her husband flirting with her maid, she sings an impassioned ode to her betrayed homeland. When a smitten Eisenstein starts flirting with her, she manages to steal his pocket watch.
Midnight is approaching, and Falke entertains the guests with the story of how he earned the nickname of Dr. Fledermaus. The crowd toasts to champagne, love, and brotherhood and dance through the night. As the clock strikes six, Eisenstein gives up trying to get his watch back and rushes off to jail.
Frank arrives to the jail tipsy and enraptured, quickly followed by Adele. Adele hopes Frank might further her stage aspirations. Frank sends her off as Eisenstein arrives, who says he has come to serve his sentence. He is surprised to learn his cell is already occupied by a man who claims to be him and who was found with Rosalinda. Blind arrives, claiming he was summoned by the man in cell 12 to handle a case of false arrest. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter, Eisenstein snatches Blind’s cloak, glasses, and wig to disguise himself as the lawyer.
Rosalinda rushes in to try and secure Alfred’s release and asks “Blind” to press divorce charges against her errant husband. She is offended and confused when the “lawyer” seems to take Eisenstein’s side. Dropping his disguise, Eisenstein accuses his wife of promiscuity, at which point Rosalinde produces his watch. Falke arrives to gloat over the success of his plan and brings Orlofsky and his guests in tow to appreciate his grand prank.