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Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer / McIntyre, Sawallisch

Wagner / Mcintyre / Ligendza / Bvso / Sawallisch
Release Date: 05/13/2008 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001099309  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ruth HesseDonald McIntyreHermann WinklerBengt Rundgren,   ... 
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State OrchestraBavarian State Opera Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

WAGNER Der fliegende Holländer Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond; Donald McIntyre ( The Dutchman ); Catarina Ligendza ( Senta ); Bengt Rundgren ( Daland ); Hermann Winkler ( Erik ); Ruth Hesse ( Mary ); Harald Ek ( Daland’s Helmsman ); Bavarian St Op O & Ch Read more DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 001099309 (DVD: 117:00)

This Holländer is an opera film, as opposed to a filmed stage production and, as that sort of thing goes, it works very well. Director Václav Kašlík has his players sloshing around in the large water tanks of a Munich movie studio and the result is a Flying Dutchman that certainly looks like you’d imagine, listening to a favorite audio-only version with your eyes shut. Daland and his crew are soaked to the skin as the action begins with act I’s violent storm and the Dutchman delivers “Wie oft in Meeres tiefsten Schlund” while in waist-high water. In the second act, the door of Daland’s house blows open to signal the Dutchman’s arrival, a highly cinematic moment. When the Dutchman sings “Wie aus der Ferne längst vergangner Zeiten,” we see Senta through his eyes, which helps conceptualize the character as a supernatural being who has been at his miserable quest for eons. And the opening of act III, as the sailors celebrate their return to land with smoking, drinking, and dancing, doesn’t look choreographed, as it inevitably does before the footlights. Visually, about the only thing that disappoints is the ghost ship’s crew, not nearly as horrifying a collection of undead as you might have anticipated.

The visual appeal of this film notwithstanding, it has the drawback of all opera films: by necessity, the singing is overdubbed. In this case, the voices were recorded in May of 1974, half a year before the filming. For me, this always interferes with the emotional directness of the performances, even when it’s the same artist overdubbing his or her role on screen. At least the cast is uniformly strong—this is a Holländer you’d be happy to hear with the television off. McIntyre is a tormented (though not scenery-chewing) Dutchman and, as Daland, Bengt Rundgren represents a warm and considerate captain and father, totally clueless as to the unusual aura of his fellow commander. Catarina Ligendza’s soprano is appealingly colored and full, yet possesses a reasonably youthful lightness. Hermann Winkler—who looks more like an opera singer than anyone else in this production—manages to introduce a heroic element to his vocal portrayal of Erik, a role that can devolve into whining.

As Mike Ashman points out in his liner note, Wolfgang Sawallisch is “an acknowledged Holländer specialist” and he leads the performance with terrific dramatic thrust and incisiveness. Sawallisch opts to eschew Wagner’s Tristanesque revisions to the end of the Overture and the close of the entire work and, especially in the latter instance, this contributes to the film’s powerful theatricality. Senta swims out to the Dutchman’s ship, they embrace, and the craft has sunk by the final loud chord. There is a cut of close to 90 bars in the opening scene of act III, when the revelers call out to the ghost ship; perhaps this seemed too “stagy” to Kalík and his collaborating conductor.

The sound, in both 16-bit, 48 kHz PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 surround, is very good. Subtitles are provided in German, English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Someone starting a Wagner DVD collection will want to first obtain a staged version—Leif Segerstam’s leadership of a cast headed by Franz Grundheber, Hildegard Behrens, and Matti Salminen (Kultur) or the Harry Kupfer-directed Bayreuth production with Simon Estes in the title role (DG) will both do nicely—but video-inclined Wagnerians will find the Kašlík/Sawallisch effort a lot of fun.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint

Sound format: PCM Stereo, DTS Sound 5.1
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Region: 0 (All Regions)
Format: NTSC
Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish Read less

Works on This Recording

Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Ruth Hesse (Mezzo Soprano), Donald McIntyre (Bass), Hermann Winkler (Tenor),
Bengt Rundgren (Bass), Catarina Ligendza (Soprano), Harald Ek (Tenor)
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1974 

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