Der Fliegende Holländer

Opera San José's Der fliegende Holländer Review

10* Notes *
Opera San José kicked off a new year last weekend with an ambitious production (Act II pictured, photograph by Pat Kirk) of Der fliegende Holländer. The very loud performance on Saturday night was enjoyably and unapologetically grand.

Steven C. Kemp's set features wood planked walls that took on projections by Ian Wallace. Most of the time these were simple backdrops of the Norwegian coast, very cobalt blue and icy white. In the more supernatural and ghostly scenes the projections would illustrate the text. We saw fire and annihilation when the Dutchman sings ""Die Frist ist um, und abermals verstrichen sind sieben Jahr," for instance.

Brad Dalton's direction is straightforward and unambiguous, he gets in the humor of both the Steersman and Daland, and he created dramatic tension in Act II by having Senta face upstage so long, with only her black curls and the folds of her deep blue gown visible. The last scene was perhaps the most abstract, it was also blinding, but it was unequivocal and effective.

Maestro Joseph Marcheso had the orchestra go all out, the music was powerfully played. There were some beautiful shimmery and clear moments, but mostly it was vibrantly thunderous. This seemed to pose no problems for the singers, who could match the volume perfectly well. The chorus had a little trouble staying exactly on beat in Act III, but sang with force and charm.

This opera is nicely suited to the young singers cast. Tenor Mason Gates' Steersman was very sweet and bright, and he can walk on his hands and even did a backwards somersault in Act III. Bass Gustav Andreassen was an amusing and lovable Daland. His German was easy to understand, though the rest of the singers were also intelligible. Soprano Kerriann Otaño makes for a winsome Senta, her voice is lovely and very strong. Baritone Noel Bouley's Dutchman felt grave and human.

* Tattling * 
This audience was obviously the normal Opera San José crowd, so full of excitement for the singers and perhaps less concerned about Wagner. It was refreshing, I don't think I've ever heard an aria applauded in the middle of Der fliegende Holländer, even the performers looked slightly confused when this happened near the end of Act II.

The woman in Row E Seat 102 was (naturally) less tolerant of a very noisy person in Seat 104 of the same row who exclaimed loudly throughout the performance. She had to switch her seat with her companion, who had the aisle seat further away from the offending patron.

Der fliegende Holländer at Hawai'i Opera Theatre

Hot-dutchman-2015 * Notes *
Der fliegende Holländer opened at Hawai'i Opera Theatre last night. Francesca Zambello's production, directed here by Sara Widzer, involves a lot of ropes. The set is simple and remains essentially the same the entire time, despite the intermission placed in the middle of Act II. Scenes are changed using light and a few props, including the aforementioned ropes and some furniture. The choreography is elaborate, singers dance and climb up metal scaffolding or rope netting. Though the stage direction seems somewhat fussy, the main plot points are well-motivated and the end is definitely effective.

The youthful cast is strong. Melody Moore is radiant as Senta, and has a lovely vulnerability. Ryan McKinny is powerful in the title role, and conveys a certain dangerousness in his growling, bold voice. Jay Hunter Morris sounds bright and plaintive as Erik. Paul Whelan (Daland) is cheerful and Nathan Munson (Steuermann) sweet. It was difficult, at least at yesterday's performance, to hear Maya Hoover as Mary, but her physicality is spot on for the role.

The orchestra, conducted by John Keenan, played the overture with spirit. There were times when the musicians could have sounded more cohesive, and this was also the case with the chorus. However, this does not detract much from the sturdiness of the piece itself or the fine soloists.

* Tattling *
It was helpful to sit in the first row for this performance, as it made it easy to ignore the scattered talking from my neighbors (Row A Seats 25 and 27) on the left. They were engaged by the experience but perhaps a bit noisy in their enthusiasm. The couple on my right (Seats 21 and 19) was completely rapt and silent.

SF Opera's Der Fliegende Holländer

Sf-opera-hollaender-act-3-2013* Notes * 
A co-production of Der fliegende Holländer (Greer Grimsley as the Dutchman and Lise Lindstrom as Senta pictured left, photograph by Cory Weaver) with Opéra Royal de Wallonie opened yesterday at San Francisco Opera.

Petrika Ionesco designed the set and was to have directed as well, but it seems that he was asked to leave, and as I understand it, the whole thing was re-staged in the last week or so. The result is rather tame, and does not include space ships, planets, and aliens that one may have heard about or even hoped for. More importantly, the cast is quite strong and the playing is clear and smooth. Maestro Patrick Summers was characteristically able in in his conducting, keeping the orchestra at an even clip and a sensible volume. The chorus sounded nice.

A.J. Glueckert made for a fine Steuermann, his voice is bright and unstrained. Ian Storey sounded pained as Erik. Kristinn Sigmundsson seemed an ideal Daland, singing with much warmth. Lise Lindstrom's San Francisco Opera debut went splendidly. Her Senta is sympathetic, her voice conveys emotion without being ugly. Likewise, Greer Grimsley sang the title role with feeling. He seemed tortured as appropriate for the Holländer, but his voice did not sound overtaxed.

* Tattling * 
Standing room attendance more robust than for Falstaff. I arrived a bit after 7pm and had Standing Room Ticket 59.

The last row of the balcony was more or less empty, so a middle-aged woman in a short skirt climbed over from the second to last row to place herself unfortunately close to me. This revolting person ate some sort of Patina treat in cellophane during Act II, flicking the crumbs onto the floor. She took off her boots and placed her stockinged feet on an empty seat in front of her.

Holländer at the Bayreuther Festspiele

Hollaender-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.

Bayerische Staatsoper's 2008-2009 Season

October 2 2008- July 24 2009: Macbeth
October 4-11 2008: Das Gehege / Salome
October 5 2008- July 13 2009: Norma
October 19-25 2008: Die Bassariden
October 23- November 2 2008: Eugene Onegin
November 1-6 2008: Die Entführung aus dem Serail
November 8 2008- May 21 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
November 10 2008- January 31 2009: Wozzeck
November 22 2008- March 27 2009: Tamerlano
November 24 2008- July 26 2009: Luisa Miller
November 28 2008- July 7 2009: Werther
December 9-14 2008: Doktor Faustus
December 13-18 2008: Hänsel und Gretel
December 17 2008- May 31 2009: La Bohème
December 21-28 2008: Die Zauberflöte
December 23 2008- June 15 2009: La Traviata
December 31 2008- February 24 2009: Die Fledermaus
January 4-10 2009: Carmen
January 19- July 14 2009: Palestrina
February 2-18 2009: Elektra
February 7- July 22 2009: Nabucco
February 20-26 2009: La Calisto
February 23- July 6 2009: Lucrezia Borgia
March 1- July 31 2009: Falstaff
March 14- July 30 2009: Otello
April 8- July 9 2009: Jenůfa
April 9-12 2009: Parsifal
April 26- May 2 2009: Così fan tutte
May 13-15 2009: Madama Butterfly
May 16-23 2009: Le Nozze di Figaro
June 8-30 2009: Aida
July 5-19 2009: Lohengrin
July 13-20 2009: Ariadne auf Naxos
June 14- July 30 2009: Idomeneo

Nicola Luisotti is conducting a new production of Macbeth next season at the Bavarian State Opera. Željko Lučić sings the title role, Nadja Michael sings Lady Macbeth, and Dimitri Pittas is Macduff. Anna Netrebko sings in the May performances of La Bohème, with Joseph Calleja as her Rodolfo. John Relyea sings Colline. Relyea is also singing the title role in Le Nozze di Figaro, with Lucas Meachem as the Count. Angela Gheorghiu is Violetta Valéry in the June performances of La Traviata, singing opposite Jonas Kaufmann. Simon Keenlyside is Germont. Paolo Gavanelli sings the title role of Nabucco during the Münchner Opernfestspiele 2009. Earlier in the year he also sings Sharpless in Madama Butterfly.

New Productions for 2008-2009 | Official Site

ROH's 2008-2009 Season

September 8- October 4 2008: Don Giovanni
September 16-29 2008: La fanciulla del West
September 23- October 10 2008: La Calisto
October 11-18 2008: La Bohème
October 23- November 11 2008: Matilde di Shabran
November 9-24 2008: Elektra
November 25- December 13 2008: Les Contes d'Hoffmann
December 9 2008- January 1 2009: Hänsel und Gretel
December 22- January 23 2008: Turandot
January 20-31 2009: The Beggar's Opera
January 27- February 17 2009: Die Tote Stadt
February 10 -25 2009: Rigoletto
February 23- March 10 2009: Der fliegende Holländer
March 2- April 11 2009: I Capuleti e i Montecchi
March 31- April 20 2009: Dido and Aeneas/Acis and Galatea
April 13- May 7 2009: Il trovatore
April 27- May 16 2009: Lohengrin
May 12-25 2009: L'elisir d'Amore
June 4-20 2009: Lulu
June 19- July 6 2009: La Traviata
June 26- July 18 2009: Un Ballo en Maschera
July 7-18 2009: Il barbiere di Siviglia
July 9-18 2009: Tosca

Simon Keenlyside and Mariusz Kwiecien share the role of Don Giovanni, and Keenlyside also sings Figaro in Il barbiere. David Alden has his ROH debut directing a production of La Calisto from Bayerische Staatsoper. Bryn Terfel is singing in Holländer and Tosca, while Deborah Voigt sings the title role of the latter. Renée Fleming is singing opposite Joseph Calleja in La Traviata and Thomas Hampson sings Germont. Die Tote Stadt has its UK premiere, Ingo Metzmacher will conduct. The production is from Salzburg and is the one that will be at San Francisco Opera this September. Lucas Meachem will be singing Aeneas in his ROH debut.

Bloomberg Article | Press Release [PDF] |Official Site

Der Fliegende Holländer at Seattle Opera

Jane Eaglen and Greer Grimsley, photo by Rozarii Lynch* Notes *
Stephen Wadsworth's 1989 production Der Fliegende Holländer revived at Seattle Opera from August 4-25, 2007, and I caught the fifth and sixth performances on a weekend jaunt to the Emerald City. Thomas Lynch's sets are meant to be 19th century, but the costumes looked like contemporary street clothing. The singing was mediocre. The steersman, Jason Collins, had poor diction. Daniel Sumegi was quiet in the role of Daland. Greer Grimsley was an impassive Dutchman, one could hear him but he just did not seem terribly engaged. Jane Eaglen (Senta) was least unpleasant, her voice is full but not overpowering. Her acting was terrible, she is especially unsuited for the role of a young, sweet girl as she can barely move. The choreography as a whole was boring, the singers mostly just stood around. I did enjoy hearing the chorus and the orchestra played well under the direction of Asher Fisch.

* Tattling *
The production was drawn out from having two intermissions, perhaps this was for the scene changes as the sets were not simple. Often times this opera is given with no intermission at all, so it is a bit strange that Wadsworth/Lynch decided to make one of Wagner's shorter operas longer.

The audience was the worst-behaved that I have observed at a Wagner opera in Seattle. There was talking, beeping, and the like. They kept clapping for the sets. Worst though was the Act II set, which emitted a high pitched noise. Perhaps the lights were to blame, but it was almost unbearable the second time around.

Der Fliegende Holländer at SFO

The last performance of Der Fliegende Holländer this season was this evening. The production came from the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff. Raimund Bauer's set was stark and Andrea Schmidt-Futterer's costumes were reminiscent of samurai from space. Denni Sayers' choreography was slightly clunky, the women spinning their hair was especially absurd.

Soprano Nina Stemme was good as Senta, her voice is has a fine clarity. Bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo was sufficient as the Dutchman, certainly a very strong voice, perhaps lacking in beauty.

The thing that struck me the most about this performance was not the production, but the music. It is filled with drama and excitement, it is more like opera than Wagner's later works. The lack of intermission made the whole work very immediate, one stays in the same world for 150 minutes.