Also available on Blu-ray
Der fliegende Holländer is considered to be the first ‘true’ Wagner opera. The story of the phantom ship and its haunted master becomes a sensually charged drama with love and tragic sacrifice at its heart, and this original 1841 version leaves the ultimate redemption of its central characters unresolved. Wagner originally conceived the opera for Paris, so it is fitting that this production from the Theater an der Wien is driven by French director Olivier Py’s unique vision, with a staging that dispels many of the misconceptions surrounding Wagner’s art.
Played out in stylish black and white on Pierre-André Weitz’s ingenious, frequently revolving set, actors and set elements come and go to sometimes dizzying effect. There’s a dreamlike quality to the action—something only has to be mentioned and it magically appears. The graveyard that springs up at the Dutchman’s feet, the waves that appear at the end, the skull and skeletons, are all theatrical coups. It’s sometimes brain-taxing, yet never less than theatrically engaging and dramatically compelling.
As the Dutchman, Samuel Youn sings with incisive power and great attention to text. Ingela Brimberg’s Senta is viscerally felt with thrilling top notes, if occasionally strident, while Bernard Richter’s warm-toned tenor is spot on as Georg. Lars Woldt’s grasping bully of a Donald raises a nasty misogynist flag about the world in which his daughter is bartered and sold. François Roussillon’s astute video direction manages to focus the action without losing the appropriate sense of scale. Sound—especially orchestral detail—is excitingly meticulous.
– Limelight (Australia)