Holländer at the Bayreuther Festspiele
August 14, 2013
* Notes *
Bayreuther Festspiele's Der fliegende Holländer had a fourth performance this season yesterday evening. Christian Thielemann conducted the orchestra with precise control and intimidating intensity. The brass had a perfect clarity. The woodwinds played vividly. The chorus shone once again, singing robustly and moving persuasively. The singers were synchronized in every way.
The Act I set is rather dizzying with flashing lighted lines and numbers on two giant curved walls. It is odd that Der Steurmann and Daland are in a row boat, when the rest of the staging indicates they were businessmen at an exchange or commodity market of some kind. The scene changes are seamless, and it is particularly stunning when the Act I walls came apart while the male chorus walks from upstage all the way downstage with the Act II room following them. As far as the production goes, Acts II and III make few references to seafaring or spinning or anything else in the libretto. Nevertheless, director Jan Philipp Gloger's narrative on capitalism is clear and hangs together well. The pyrotechnics are especially spectacular.
Singing was fairly good. Benjamin Bruns (Der Steuermann) and Christa Mayer (Mary) made serviceable contributions to the proceedings. Tomislav Muzek was a sympathetic Erik. Franz-Josef Selig was a warm, paternal Daland. Ricarda Merbeth sang Senta with a lot of force. Intonation did not seem a primary concern for her. Samuel Youn was a very pleasant Holländer, and could have been much more menacing. His voice is pretty.
* Tattling *
A couple in Row 21 on the left side had the audacity to speak during the terrifying overture, but were silenced right away with one hushing. Someone loathed the two principals and booed them at full volume during their curtain calls.