01. Februar 2012

Gleich zweimal mit Kritikerpreisen bei FANFARE und CLASSICS TODAY ausgezeichnet: ‘the Haenchen Holländer in a performance whose compelling drama is made possible via Haenchen’s incendiary conducting.’ – Fanfare, "Neue Referenzaufnahme": Hartmut Haenchen dirigiert Richard Wagners Der fliegende Holländer.

"The star of the show is conductor Hartmut Haenchen", WIENER ZEITUNG: "... schlicht und einfach eine Sensation!... ein Ereignis". FONO FORUM: "TIPP der Redaktion: Eine Wucht": 5 Sterne

http://mostlyopera.blogspot.com, 1.2.2012

A group of tourists are stranded. Behind them , and set of double glass doors, the swimming pool of the hotel is visible. The sleek tour guide (Daland) muses around, trying to find a solution, which arrives with the Dutchman´s bag of Euros. Who are the black-hooded people behind the glass doors? Criminals? Escaped members from the Dutchman´s crew, we later find out. At that point, an unusually resourceful Erik has already killed some of them. What are they really? An allegory of illegal immigrants in Europe as alluded by some? Or just a gang of criminals?

Senta is completely detached from reality, sitting alone by an old spinning-wheel as the only one amidst modern women hanging a swimming pool including a posh Mary in silver cocktail dress. That Catherine Naglestad´s Senta is rather mature seem fittingly here - she has been living outside reality for a long time.

Late, in Act 3, the stage is switched around, now we are among the black-clad, looking at the swimming-pool party.

The relationship between Erik, Senta and the Dutchman is at the centre of this staging, with focus on Erik. Eventually he doesn´t accept the relation between Senta and the Dutchman and ends by shooting (and killing) both the Dutchman and Senta. Redemption? Not Martin Kusej´s style.

Hitting more often than missing, this is nevertheless not one of Martin Kusej´s best stagings (on DVD, look for Lady Macbeth from Mtsensk or Rusalka) as he lacks a certain clarity of conception.

Catherine Naglestad has both charisma, and heft, and gets better and better. Her vocal strong point is her high register, though if your reference is Leonie Rysanek, she will eventually fall short. Without being exceptional, slightly too wobbly and not too high on the charisma scale, Juha Uusitalo is nevertheless a better Dutchman than Wotan.

Robert Lloyd (born 1940), thus 70 years at the time of the performance, was more than adequately challenged as Daland, while Marco Jentzch convinced as Erik.

Swift and transporting reading from Hartmut Haenchen.

Unfortunately, important recent productions such as Peter Konwitschny´s in Munich are not (yet?) available on DVD. and generally, the Dutchman competition on DVD is not overwhelming. Though old-fashioned by todays standards, Harry Kupfer´s 1978 Bayreuth production may still be the choice for many.

http://theclassicalreview.com, 2.12.2011

.... The star of the show is conductor Hartmut Haenchen, who knows when to goose the score into high-dramatics (the timpani player certainly earns his fee throughout the performance), and when to ease up and let a moment drift into mystical reverie. He gets crisp work from the chorus – which is at times less-than-optimally placed onstage – and draws committed singing from a cast that no one would confuse for a Golden Age ensemble, but who get the job done. ...

Soprano Catherine Naglestad makes the deepest impression as a quietly intense, unambiguously middle-aged Senta, whose gutsy, mezzo-ish middle-voice gives way to occasionally edgy high notes, but who strikes a nice balance between dreaminess and full-on psychosis.
Her Dutchman, baritone Juha Uusitalo, is an idiosyncratic singer. As recorded here, he gives the impression of ample vocal power, though my one encounter with him in live performance (in this same opera, at the Met) revealed a much smaller voice, over-parted by Wagner’s demands. That may explain his tendency toward explosive attacks, barked-out phrasing and general straining for volume, and accounts for the thinness and wear in his upper register. Yet, though he’s not much subtler as an actor (there’s a lot of mugging and wild-eyed staring going on), he practically hurls himself into the role, and we’re never in doubt about the damage this man has taken from the high-stakes gamble he makes every seven years.
Marco Jentzsch is an unusually convincing Erik, offering a believable mix of arrested adolescence, ardor, incredulity and defensive sarcasm – which make up for a somewhat pinched and nasal tenor that (sensitively though he phrases much of his part) becomes a bit wearing. Tenor Oliver Ringelhahn’s Steersman alternates skittishness with doltish swagger, his generally sweet-toned voice not entirely masking the strain when he tries to modulate volume on his high notes.
Mezzo Marina Prudenskaja does a nice job with the tiny role of Mary (here a glammed-up and self-absorbed party girl). And it’s a pleasure to encounter veteran singer Robert Lloyd – his bass still possessing some of its accustomed velvet, though portions of it have inevitably parched a bit with age – in the role of Daland, having fun with the way the character is interpreted here as a wealthy and entitled yachtsman.
What might prove divisive about this performance is the work of stage director Martin Kušej. If viewers can accept the tone of comic irony he strikes through most of Act 1 (tourists in storm-soaked, garishly colored leisure-wear flooding into a shipside waiting-room and being serenaded by the Steersman, who steals a gold-sequined jacket from an unconscious cruise-band musician and summons a spotlight for his song), and the early scenes of Act 2 (the women’s chorus prepping for their boyfriends’ arrival with spa treatments, make-up regimens, party-clothes fittings and dips in the upstage swimming pool, while Senta sits, shrouded in black, at a lone spinning wheel, with an oil painting of a storm-tossed coastline resting against her chair), they’ll find that Kušej does some clever deconstructing and creates a potent level of atmosphere.
There’s much made of outsider status throughout the staging. Senta is a universe away from the other women in her circle – an old-world Romantic in stark black, isolated as an island in the sea of day-glo silks and taffetas, worn by giggly, superficial women she is expected to emulate. The Dutchman (in a telling visual parallel) first drifts into view as the sole, black-clad figure staggering his way among all the Hawaiian-shirted, souvenir-clutching pleasureboat passengers – completely alone in a throng of uncomprehending rubes. (Kudos to Heide Kastler, whose costume designs are cannily spot-on everywhere in this production.)
Most effective is Kušej’s treatment of the Dutchman’s crew who, in their dark, hooded jackets and sweatpants call to mind blackmarket pirates, urban gang members, homeless addicts and reaper-like angels of death – all, somehow, appropriate metaphors for figures who strike terror in the hearts of anyone who encounters them. They gather menacingly outside the bank of glass-and-steel doors that bisect the stage into upstage vs. downstage (interior vs. exterior, wild vs. controlled, insider vs. outsider) planes, then scatter like rats on a signal from the Dutchman.
In Act 2, several of them enter bleeding – caught in gunplay during criminal acts? – and die in the swimming pool, turning the water red. In an interesting bit of business, they hand over wads of cash to the Dutchman early in the opera, then steal it back from his dead body (like Senta, he is murdered by a disgusted and panicked Eric in this telling of the story), and flee from him at the final curtain. Very effective stuff and germane to the action – which doesn’t hurt.
Designer Martin Zehetgruber has supplied a striking version of what has become the archetypal stage set for any deconstructionist director worth his salt – the cold, featureless corporate space – and Reinhard Traub has lit it in suitably soulless faux-florescence. It all looks terrific in Blu-ray, and video director Joost Honselaar has done a clever job of pointing up the links between Senta’s painting of the sea and the Act 3 backdrop – which is that same painting writ large – adding a neatly crafted opening montage of storm-tossed seas and close-ups on orchestral players for the overture.
There’s a short, only mildly illuminating behind-the-scenes documentary, which strives to explain the production, but inexplicably does not include a word from Martin Kušej! No matter – his concept speaks very well for itself onstage.
Joe Banno

Fanfare, 1.11.2011
Zur Begründung des Kritikerpreises:
"the Haenchen Holländer in a performance whose compelling drama is made possible via Haenchen’s incendiary conducting."

Opera News, Dezember 2011 (Metropolitan Opera Guild New York)

It is a quirk of the opera repertory that Der Fliegende Holländer is more often produced because stage directors are attracted to the dramaturgy than because singers or audiences are clamoring for it. Martin Kušej's 2010 production from Amsterdam is the latest in a line of intelligent, sustained engagements with Wagner's text. It is a clever, almost coy subversion of the elements Wagner would have thought to be essential. There is a painting, yes, but it is a seascape, not a portrait. There are nautical costumes, but not a hint of anything else related to a ship. Senta is granted an anachronistic spinning wheel, but only as a symbol of just how far out of touch she is with her day-spa-denizen girlfriends. Kušej is primarily interested in the Dutchman–Senta relationship, so the Act II duet is the highlight of the staging. There are no fussy details; instead, much is made of whether or when he is finally going to touch her. Contact is near but averted for a long while, since she wholeheartedly desires it but won't initiate it. Finally, as if willed by the music, it happens.
Kušej's direction and Martin Zehetgruber's set designs almost pull everything together, but ultimately they are just muddled enough to be distracting. Two parallel rows of glass doors upstage seem to be part office building (with a steel security gate) and part hotel lobby where the chorus members take refuge from some sort of vacation disaster. In between them, a lap pool is eventually revealed. But are those darting men in hooded sweatshirts joggers or burglars? Eventually, too late, we realize that they are escaped members of the Dutchman's crew. (One of them dies a bloody death in the pool.) The intention behind the production, that simple things can be taken on several levels, is more fully realized by Heide Kastler's single costume for Senta: part bathrobe, part monk's cowl, part dark evening-dress, it ties a lot of ideas together. So does Catherine Naglestad's electric Senta. This is an intensely musical performance, every note sung, with her ballad thrilling because she doesn't perform it as a set piece. Strong-willed — she sings the line "I don't know what I'm doing" with bitter irony — she carries the show.
No one else is on her level, but Juha Uusitalo's Dutchman is a decidedly better singer when he is onstage with her. Robert Lloyd, days from his seventieth birthday, finds Daland to be a big stretch. (He's gotten up as the millionaire yachting dilettante Thurston Howell, so why would he covet the Dutchman's riches?) Conductor Hartmut Haenchen is equally fine in the tiny details, such as the accompaniment figures in the Daland–Dutchman duet, and the long spans.
Given that two of the most important Holländer productions — Ponnelle's 1975 San Francisco mounting, where the Steersman entered his own dream and became Erik, and Guth's recent Bayreuth rendering, about a seven-year-old girl with the biggest Daddy fixation of all time — were never filmed and released commercially, Kušej's version might have swept the DVD field. But Act III lets us down. Kušej hasn't found an equivalent, on his own terms, for the overwhelming choral climax, and he paints himself into a hopeless corner for the final two minutes. There is still not a completely satisfying Holländer on DVD. Production styles move on, but the Harry Kupfer staging for Bayreuth, filmed in 1985, retains more than documentary interest.

Scherzo, 1.11.2011

Musicalmente, sin rayar a gran altura, la versión es digna.
En general, las voces quedan cortas pero cumplen con el debido empeño. Brilla el cora y tiene buen timbre la orquesta, conducida con brio y sentido de la narración. Dejo para el final la exepción: la soprano Naglestad, que resulta superlativa. Su voz es clara, pastosa, generosa de registros, en especial en el agudo, y la maneja con dominio de volúmenes, musicalidad, lirismo y una rica variedad de intenciones, que van desde el arrobamiento a la desesperación, desde la obstinada femineidad redentora a la calurosa femineidad apasionada.
Blas Matamore

Rondo, 17. September 2011, 5 Sterne von 5 möglichen Sternen

In der Tat: Diese Senta „spinnt“. Inmitten stöckelschuhbewehrter Schickimickidamen am Wellness-Spa-Pool träumt sie schwarzgewandet wie eine vorgestrige Amish-Frau, am Spinnrad sich die Finger blutig spinnend, von einem entwurzelten, zu ewiger Rastlosigkeit verdammten „bleichen Mann“: Wer sich derart ernst und leidenschaftlich von seiner Oberflächen-Happiness-Umgebung abhebt wie diese Senta, der ist, gelinde gesagt, ein Außenseiter. Das gilt auch für ihren erträumten „Holländer“. Sehnsüchtig suchen beide nach einer besseren Welt, einer wirklichen Heimat – fern aller falschen Hollywood-Zivilisation bzw. Zweiklassen-Gesellschaft.
Kein Zweifel: Wir befinden uns auf einer Bühne Martin Kušejs (und Martin Zehetgrubers, seinem Bühnenbildner). Letztes Jahr gab der Tiefenpsychologe und politische Unruhestifter unter den heutigen Regiegrößen sein Wagner-Debüt in Amsterdam. Es wurde, wie am Mitschnitt minutiös nachzuerleben ist, ein in vielerlei Hinsicht denkwürdiges und aufwühlendes. Und natürlich eines, das alte Wagnerianer (die in Amsterdam, wie dem tobenden Schlussapplaus zu entnehmen ist, offenbar nur wenig vertreten sind) vergrätzen musste: (ausgerechnet in Holland!) kein Schiff, kein Meer (allenfalls in der schwarzweiß untermalten Ouvertüre), kein Hafen, keine Seemanns-Romantik, stattdessen ein steriler Transitraum mit doppelter Glastürfront, später mit Metallgittern, gestrandete, panische Kreuzfahrt-Touristen bzw. Baseballschläger-bewaffnete Fun-Menschen auf der knallbunten „Erste Welt“-Seite, dafür Kapuzen-Terroristen, zusammengepferchte Boat-People und Migranten aller Couleur auf der Elendsseite. „Misstrauen gegenüber der dünnen Kruste der Zivilisation“, „Störung unserer selbstgefälligen Ruhe“: Hier in Amsterdam durfte man fasziniert Zeuge werden von Kušejs Regie-Credo.
Und von dessen nahezu makelloser Umsetzung. Catherine Naglestad‘s Senta begann – gemäß Wagners Leidenschafts-Klimax – zunächst äußerst zerbrechlich, dann grandios aufleuchtend. Juha Uusitalo verkörperte geradezu exemplarisch den Titelhelden: raumfüllend und hochexpressiv sein Bariton, fesselnd seine Mimik, markant sein glatzköpfiger Schädel. Der Kontrast zu Daland (Robert Lloyd als weißbetuchter, stimmlich leider etwas brüchiger, neureicher Kuppler-Vater) war denkbar scharf. Marco Jentzschs tenoral strahlendem Erik oblag es nicht nur, den hoffnungslos Verliebten zu mimen, sondern auch Kušejs Plot umzusetzen und seinem Jäger-Beruf „gerecht“ zu werden: Er erschießt das Traumpaar! Wagners „Erlösung“ einmal anders. Wie auch immer man zu diesem Ein- bzw. Kunstgriff stehen mag: Dieser Amsterdamer „Holländer“ ist ein Meilenstein der Wagner-Diskographie. Nicht zuletzt dank einer überaus kompakten, kraftvollen Orchester- und Chorleistung, mit der sich Hartmut Haenchen als ein hochversierter Wagner-Dirigent empfiehlt.
Christoph Braun

OPERNWELT, Heft 9/10 2011, Seite 48

Anregend, ausgewogen, aufregend

...Jetzt kann man diese in mancher Hinsicht aufwühlende, streitbare, aber nie oberflächliche Produktion auf DVD anschauen. ... Hartmut Haenchen und dem Niederländischen Philharmonischen Orchester gebührt uneingeschränktes Lob. Großer Sturm und feine Nuance - alles ist da, leidenschaftlich, aber nie dick aufgetragen, immer entschlackt und verständlich. Wagner wird hier nicht krampfhaft historisiert, sondern als Wegweiser in die Zukunft porträtiert. ... Alles in allem: ein "Holländer" von starker, von verstörender Wirkung."
Christoph Vratz

www.tutti-magazine.fr, November 2011, 9/10 Punkte Wertung

Hartmut Haenchen, très longtemps à la tête de l'Opéra et du Philharmonique de Hollande, conserve les tempi relevés dont il a l'habitude et un équilibre dont l'orchestre wagnérien ne peut que bénéficier. Les effets faciles de l'Ouverture sont ainsi évités et le respect de la puissance des chanteurs toujours préservé.

http://www.myreviewer.com, 14. September, 2011
9 von 10 Punkten


Wagner's tale of the damned ghostly ship's captain in search of redemption and a final passage home has been given the 'updated' treatment by Martin Kušej, and up to point (actually up to the final moment of the opera itself) is surprisingly successful. ...

The 'Spinning Chorus' that begins Act II, and which precedes the beginning of the killing, shows the women of the village (or wherever they are) dolling themselves up to make themselves as pretty as possible for the return of Daland's men (the women ‘passengers’ have mysteriously disappeared). Senta is the only one actually spinning, leaving at least one of the orginal Wagnerian concepts intact. The other girls taunt and tease her about her seemingly crazy ideas about finding her imaginary 'Dutchman' for whom she has longed almost all her life.
When Daland appears with the eponymous character himself, we are finally thrown back into the Wagnerian psychological maesltrom of two people meeting for the first time, yet who have dreamt about each other for years. Kušej's direction for this scene is at its most potent, and the most powerful in the production.

Act III sees the 'Norwegian' crew and their girls enjoying a disco before they all leave port again, except this time they are themselves behind the screen with the 'Dutchmen' at front of stage, representing the real world of pain, loneliness and not-belonging (well, this is my take on it anyway). The Western ideals of partying and general hedonism are remote and trivial to those who have nothing.
The final scene presents the Dutchman and Senta having to make their minds up. Senta has yearned for this moment, as it will take her away from the bourgeois, petty lifestyle to which she is destined, yet the Dutchman has decided that she cannot be part of his operation, as he sees her proposed attachment to Erik as a deception.
As in Wagner's original perception, both the Dutchman and Senta find their own redemption in death, although probably not in the way it's dealt with here, in that Erik shoots them both. Oh well, at least we get through a very commendable version before this point.

Sound and Vision

Very impressive. There are only one or two moments where the balance favours the pit, most notably at the end of Act II when the two male leads are hard to hear, but overall it's a great recording.
Visually, the production is stark in its treatment of light and dark, and this is carried across quite dramatically for the DVD. The advantage of adding super-imposed video elements is used to great effect for the overture, and there are some very close close-ups of the orchestra which hopefully didn't get in the way of things.


A c.22 minute 'Inisights and Interviews' item, which is quite watchable and in which even Robert Lloyd, who is one of the most experienced Wagner singers around, admits that the production will be found "very challenging" by traditional Wagnerians.


The most successful, and attractive aspect of this production is the musical direction of Hartmut Haenchen.
The overture is as exciting as you would want, and despite certain sections being perhaps more leisurely than I would have hoped (I’m probably spoilt by many concert performances of course), Haenchen’s pacing of the whole work is exemplary and the stamina of the Netherlands Phil., let alone their playing, is astounding. There’s a slightly wobbly quiet low trumpet in one moment, but I can forgive that.

On stage, we are very lucky indeed to have an ensemble without a weak link in sight. You may prefer a different type of voice for different roles, such as perhaps that of Mary (Marina Prudenskaja), who is less like Senta’s nurse and more like a rival, with a young, powerful voice to match. I quite enjoyed the change.

Oliver Ringelhahn’s carries off the Steersman’s frighteningly difficult early song with far more confidence than many, yet his character is spoiled somewhat by the directorial instruction to steal a shiny gold jacket off a ship’s entertainer before beginning.

Erik, as I have mentioned, does not invoke a lot of sympathy in this production, yet Marco Jentzsch’s voice transcends the inherent evil implied in his characterisation on stage, and so if you weren’t watching you would feel this is one of the best you have heard in the role.

Robert Lloyd was supposed to have given up this sort of thing a good few years before this was recorded (according to himself), but you can’t help feeling his decision to return to roles such as Daland was a wise one. Weeks short of his 70th birthday, his voice still has the power to grab your attention, and it’s always good to see him in his element.

The partnership of Catherine Naglestad as Senta and Juha Uusitalo as the Dutchman is inspired. Naglestad’s voice is perhaps more familiar singing earlier music, yet here, the purity of her tone shines through, and she rarely has problems in projecting over the huge orchestral forces. Juha Uusitalo’s Dutchman simmers menacingly under his large frame, and has a voice quite capable of shaking the room where necessary. There are moments earlier on when some of his top notes are a little shaky, and his delivery sometimes means the notes are sacrificed for a more declamatory tone, but there’s no denying he’s one of the more successful Dutchmen in recent years.

When the two are on stage together, there’s no contact between them but everything that is unsaid can be seen in their eyes and body language, the subtlety of which could have been lost in a large auditorium.

So, apart from the very annoying ending, this is actually a new production that is able to make valid comments about ideas and ideals that resonate in today’s society, and is well-worth watching.

http://www.classicstoday.com, 16.8.2011
Artistic Quality 9/ 10 Sound Quality

Director Martin Kusej has been responsible for one of the worst Don Giovannis I've ever seen (Salzburg, 2006--Decca DVD) and the best Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (BBC--Opus Arte), so I wondered what to expect from this Netherlands Opera Dutchman, recorded in February, 2010. As it turns out, it is indeed "controversial"--it takes startling liberties and doesn't always make sense--but it's a very strong performance.

But before I get into its look and dramatic execution I must give utmost praise to conductor Hartmut Haenchen, who offers a whip-smart account of the score in the original one-act version, taking just two hours and 15 minutes. It never feels rushed but it does feel inexorable, with the orchestra playing with amazing transparency: you can hear Wagner's genius creating and growing. I don't want to call it a chamber-like approach because it is anything but delicate and miniaturized, but each instrumental section gets its due and is crystal clear; the balance between stage and pit is invariably right (bravo to the engineers as well), and somehow Haenchen manages Wagner's awkward mood/tempo changes as if they were organic.

The second act, with Erik popping in all hot and bothered, and then later, Daland, after the big duet, is normally clumsily done; here drama remains heightened. The chorus also is remarkably handled, particularly given what they have to do physically.

I can understand people despising Kusej's approach, but the care he gives to the characterizations somehow makes up for the overall approach which, as suggested above, is quirky. We are on a cruise ship, all glass doors and a deck, in modern dress. (The roomy, wall-to-wall set is by Martin Zehetsgruber and costumes are by Heide Kastler). The tourists, in true tourist outfits (floral shirts, shorts, sunglasses) are terrified of what is on the other side of the glass doors: it is the Dutchman's crew, who appear to be zombies. Well, maybe not zombies, but undesirables--like refugees from one of those unhappy countries who are being ferried to more stable places, each person with a look of desperation on his or her face. Perhaps they are asylum seekers, looking for a homeland, with a doomed captain looking for redemption and love.

The Dutchman suddenly appears--perhaps he's been lying down amid the guests--to sing "Die Frist ist um". When Daland arrives, he's a spiffily dressed tycoon and is interested in business--money changes everyone's status and the Dutchman realizes that. The second scene is set in a women's spa, with everyone except Senta in bathing suits or towels; she is in a black dress, actually has an old-fashioned spinning wheel (what is it doing in a spa?) and stares at a smallish painting of the sea and sky. (Sea and sky are projected throughout the overture as well.)

The last scene, after the weird back-and-forth of the sailors (in black, monkish, hooded clothing) and ladies, is stunning in its severity--just Senta, the Dutchman, and Erik against a background of roiling sea and sky. Senta has become part of her idealized picture. Will she remain true to the Dutchman until death? Apparently, since the shotgun-bearing Erik shoots them both dead at the curtain. Applicable or not--and each may decide for him/herself--this is a very good-looking, action-packed, thought-provoking show.

All of this would be for close to naught if the singing and dramatic commitment were any less fine than they are. Juha Uusitalo has found his ideal role in the Dutchman. His voice is big, with a distinct grain. It is not particularly beautiful but it is highly expressive, and if you think you've seen brooding, wait until you see him. His duet with Senta in Act 2 is so fraught with tension, attraction, disbelief, shock, relief, and sheer craziness that it could leave you trembling. He may be the finest Dutchman I've ever encountered.

Catherine Naglestad's Senta, almost perfectly sung, matches Uusitalo. She's clearly playing with less than a full deck from the start, but she gets stronger as the opera progresses and her vision becomes clearer and more real. I believe she sings Senta's ballad a half-tone higher than usual, which was Wagner's original conception, and the voice gleams. It is an ideally built sound, from the solid middle both up and down, and it's filled with warmth.

Picture, sound, and all production values are stunning, although there is no track-listing in the accompanying booklet (this seems to be a trend that is to be discouraged). There are three other performances of this opera on DVD; none is nearly as good as this one but Kultur's, from the Savonlinna Opera Festival (with Behrens and Grundheber) is extremely well sung. Subtitles are in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch. This may be odd, but it is not to be dismissed under any circumstances. It packs quite a wallop.
Robert Levine

FONO FORUM , 1. August 2011

TIPP: Eine Wucht" 5 Sterne

... Catherine Naglestad erweist sich als Idealbesetzung, mit glänzender Stimme und ebensolchem Aussehen, eine melancholische Figur fast wie aus dem Strindberg'schen Theaterkosmos. Juha Uusitalo ist ihr ebenbürtig, ein Holländer mit markiger, imponierender Stimme, und beide können sie ihren Wagner, wo es dieser vorsah, auch piano singen. Das Duett im zweiten Akt wird so zum magischen Höhepunkt dieser magistralen Inszenierung. Hartmut Haenchen dirigiert einen sehr dramatischen, gleichsam von allem romantischen Ballast entschlackten Wagner. Unter seiner subtilen Leitung strotzen Orchester und Chor vor Kraft, und dennoch bleibt die Dynamik differenziert und lassen sich die motivischen Konturen dieser Musik jederzeit hörend nachvollziehen.
Werner Pfister

http://www.klassikinfo.de, 12.7.2011

Aufgewühltes Meer unter bleiernem Himmel

Ein packender "Holländer" aus Amsterdam auf DVD - in der Regie von Martin Kusej mit Hartmut Haenchen am Pult

Es ist der spannendste "Holländer" - zumindest auf DVD - seit Harry Kupfers legendärer Bayreuther Deutung von 1978: Martin Kusej hat in Amsterdam Wagners Frühwerk radikal ins Heute geholt ohne die zeitlose Tragödie zu verraten, Hartmut Haenchen ließ die Musik zum Krimi gerinnen und Joost Honselaar machte daraus für Opus Arte einen packenden Film.

Schon der Beginn irritiert und fasziniert: Wie nach einem Tsunami oder einer Havarie rennen bunt gekleidete Touristen in Panik über die Bühne. Daland (immer noch stimmgewaltig: der 70-jährige Robert Lloyd) scheint der Kapitän eines Kreuzfahrtschiffes zu sein. Zum Auftritt des schwarzgekleideten Holländers (Juha Uusitalo) erstarrt die Menge. Auch Senta (Catherine Naglestad) trägt einen langen, schwarzen, weich fließenden Mantel und ist hier genauso geheimnisumwitterte Tragödin wie der Holländer. Sie spinnt inmitten aufgetakelter Damen in der Beauty-Farm als einzige realistisch, während ihre Geschlechtsgenossinnen sich in den neuesten Zeitschriften-Klatsch vertiefen. Wenn Senta die Ballade singt, besetzt die Mannschaft des Holländers - ebenfalls ganz in Schwarz, von Kapuzen verhüllt - das Schwimmbad - im rückwärtigen Teil der Bühne, abgeteilt durch unzählige Glastüren. Ihre Hände sind aufgerissen, einige sterben blutüberströmt, gestrandet sozusagen im Pool. Gruselig durchleuchtet hier der Regisseur den dramatischen Inhalt der Ballade, der von den stürmischen Seefahrten des Holländers und seiner Mannschaft erzählt ("Hui! Wie saust der Wind! Johohe! Hojohe!"), bei denen in Ku?ejs Deutung nur der Holländer nie den Tod finden kann.

Auch im dritten Akt verschärft Kusej den Kontrast von vorne kauernden schwarzen Holländer-Lemuren und der grellen, tanzwütigen Partygesellschaft hinter den Glastüren, alle aus dem Off singend. Am Ende wird Sentas Bild, das ein aufgewühltes Meer unter bleiernem Himmel zeigt, bühnenfüllend, der Jäger Erik (viril und mit dem Mut der Verzweiflung: Marco Jentzsch) erschießt mit seiner Flinte erst den Holländer, dann seine Geliebte. Doch da Hartmut Haenchen sich für die späte Fassung mit musikalischem Erlösungsschluss entschieden hat, wird die Bühne nicht nur optisch in hellblaues Hoffnungslicht getaucht.

Selten hat man einen "Holländer" so plastisch und spannend ausmusiziert in Dynamik und instrumentalen Details gehört wie hier mit dem Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra. Furchteinflößend und doch anrührend gestaltet Uusitalo die Titelpartie, während Catherine Naglestad zugleich verletzlich und überlegen wie eine antike Tragödin spielt. Dabei singt sie ebenso schlank, differenziert wie intensiv und "umschifft" geschickt die Klippen, die diese Partie selbst für dramatischere Soprane so gefährlich macht.
Klaus Kalchschmid

http://www.musicweb-international.com, Juli 2011

The story of the Flying Dutchman is one of constant searching. He is doomed to spend eternity looking for redemption, for love, for a home, for belonging. Director Martin Kušej chooses to represent this story through the very contemporary but somewhat clunky metaphor of displaced people seeking a home in the West. In Kušej’s vision it is asylum seekers and refugees who most closely resemble the Dutchman’s quest, hence the Dutchman is a fixer who organises transport for these unfortunates, and his crew are black-hooded immigrants seeking to get ashore safely. The set, consisting of a mostly bare stage with a row of glass doors at the back, suggests a zone at the front for the “haves” (Daland, his crew and his family) and a zone at the back of the stage, beyond the glass doors for the “have nots”, the Dutchman’s crew of hoodies. Then, surprisingly, the situation is reversed for the final act when the Dutchman’s crew sit impassively huddled together at the front of the stage while the hedonistic westerners cavort and frolic behind a wire mesh. I guess there’s nothing wrong with it as an idea, but my main problem was that I found it fundamentally very reductive. Gone is the grandeur and passion of the Dutchman’s tragedy: instead he is reduced to a slightly tawdry international trafficker whose “death” at the end (I won’t spoil it) didn’t move me or evoke much sympathy.

More effective was the treatment of the Westerners - it seems wrong, in the context of this production, to call them Norwegians - as superficial, shallow pleasure-seekers. Daland seems to be the captain of a cruise-ship whose disgruntled passengers have become the victim of some very heavy turbulence. The Steersman pinches the glittering jacket of one of the cabaret singers when it comes to his aria in Act 1, suggesting his love of performing. Act 2 seems to be set in a health spa, complete with swimming pool, populated by bored rich ladies and WAGs in trashy costumes. Only Senta, dressed in black, stands out from the crowd and represents traditional values by carrying on her spinning, and she is ridiculed by all the others for doing so.

While the production may have holes, the singing is more than enough to carry them. The towering Dutchman of Uusitalo is outstanding. He is one of a very small number of baritones in the world today who can really make this role come off. His voice has undeniable strength and power - just listen to his revelation of his identity in Act 3 - but it is suffused with humanity throughout, its softer edge reinforcing the character’s sympathy. His great Act 1 monologue is powerful and effecting, but also deeply moving and sympathetic. Catherine Nagelstad is perhaps a surprising choice for Wagner, but her singing as Senta is a revelation. She is a wonderfully convincing dramatic soprano, and her entire interpretation builds to the climax of her final phrases in Act 3 (sung with razor-sharp precision) but her voice never becomes too steely and, like Uusitalo, hers is a character with whom the viewer can sympathise. She sings the Act 2 narrative with dramatic lyricism and the moment when she accepts the Dutchman’s proposal is thrilling. For the contribution of these two, the extended duet at the end of the second act is the highlight of the set.

Hartmut Haenchen’s pacing of the score is just right, conducting the storm scenes like psychological thrillers, while allowing the great dialogues to unfold with a clear sense of drama, and the orchestra’s playing is excellent. The choral singing is fantastic too, and they have a great time bounding around the stage in their various guises. The sound and picture quality is up to Opus Arte’s usual excellent standards and, another feature we have come to expect and enjoy from them, the staging has been very effectively re-imagined for a video audience. The waves of the sea sweep up over the title menus and the prelude is played to the backdrop of a surging storm scene. Furthermore, during the transitions the shots of the orchestra are in black and white to reinforce how separate they are from the bright, colourful vision of what is happening on stage. There is also a short (c. 20 minute) extra feature featuring interviews with the cast and staging team, which is very interesting and worth the time to view.

I enjoyed this film very much, mainly for the singing rather than the staging, though if I wanted to introduce the Dutchman to a new audience, I think I’d still point them to Harry Kupfer’s 1985 Bayreuth staging, available on Deutsche Grammophon, still with the power to astonish 25 years later.

Simon Thompson

International Record Review, Juli/August 2011

“I must give utmost praise to conductor Hartmut Haenchen, who offers a whip-smart account of the score...It never feels rushed but it does feel inexorable, with the orchestra playing with amazing transparency: one can hear Wagner's genius creating and growing....Haenchen manages Wagner's awkward mood/tempo changes as if they were organic...Uusitalo has found his ideal role in the Dutchman...He may be the finest Dutchman I've ever encountered.” International Record Review, July/August 2011

Fanfare Magazine, Juli/August 2011

Hartmut Haenchen must be considered a leading contemporary Wagner interpreter, with two complete Ring cycles on disc with the Netherlands Opera—one on DVD, the other on SACD—and he leads a performance that presses ahead effectively. Incorporated are the pretty-much standard alterations the composer made to the score after the 1843 Dresden premiere up until 1860 Paris performances (when, for example, a Tristanesque harp was added at the very end). Haenchen is an enthusiastic advocate of Kušej’s “pioneering vision.” Richard Wagner, the conductor observes, “was hardly ever content with anything. It shows that we, as interpreters, have the right to go further, to get everything out of his masterpieces that we can.” The Netherland Philharmonic Orchestra’s playing is top-notch and the choral work unassailable. Opus Arte’s high-resolution sound is quite good, both the stereo and 5.1 DTS HD-Master Audio options. Subtitles are offered in English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch.
With this release, all 10 of Wagner’s mature stage works—plus Rienzi—are now available on Blu-ray, a mere three years after operas first appeared in the format. Given the unending popularity and seemingly endless interpretive possibilities of this music—as well as their responsiveness to the most advanced AV technology—I’m not the least bit surprised.
Andrew Quint



Schon die Ouvertüre lässt aufhorchen. Da klingt nichts überpointiert oder pathetisch. Kein romantisches Raunen ist zu hören, keine maritime Folkloristik, stattdessen frisches, federndes, oft überraschend schlankes, stets nach vorne drängendes Musizieren. Hartmut Haenchen, unstrittig einer der wenigen großen Wagner-Dirigenten unserer Zeit, lässt mit seinem fantastischen Orchester den frühen Wagner förmlich aus der deutschen Opern- und Singspieltradition herauswachsen. 'Freischütz' und 'Fidelio' sind da zu ahnen, Marschner und Spohr, selbst Mozart und Rossini grüßen aus der Ferne. Auf der anderen Seite lässt Haenchen keinen Zweifel daran, wie sehr bereits der 'Holländer' auf die musikalische Moderne verweist, wie namentlich die Passagen der Titelfigur bereits ein Verlassen der Tonalität ahnen lassen. Diese Auffassung von Wagners Musik ist natürlich keinesfalls neu, ist aber auf Ton- und Bildträgern bisher kaum in dieser Konsequenz und Qualität zu erleben gewesen.
Am eindringlichsten gelingt das Herausmodellieren dieser Diskrepanz in der großen Chorszene zu Beginn des dritten Aktes. Hier leistet der Chor der Nederlandse Opera vor allem im subtilen Umgang mit Klangfarben Erstaunliches. Der Regisseur Martin Kusej stützt hier explizit die musikalische Interpretation, indem er die Besatzung des Holländerschiffes auf die Vorderbühne holt. Überhaupt scheint der Ansatz des Dirigenten die szenische Realisierung beeinflusst zu haben, was absolut positiv zu vermerken ist.
Touristen und Heimatlose
Martin Zehetgruber hat quer über die weiß ausgeschlagene Bühne eine Wand aus Glastüren gebaut, einen Raum- und Weltenteiler. Daland ist hier der Kapitän eines Kreuzfahrtschiffes. Besatzung und Touristen kommen zu Beginn durch die Glastüren nach vorne, in Schwimmwesten und individueller Freizeitkleidung. Die Mannschaft des Holländers dagegen ist schwarz gekleidet. Unter den Kapuzen sind keinerlei Gesichter auszumachen. Sie haben keine Heimat, keine Identität. Sie dürfen nicht hinein. Einzig der glatzköpfige Holländer ist eine Art Zwischenexistenz, durch sein individuelles Schicksal ein verzweifelt eine äußere Heimat suchender Wanderer zwischen den Welten.
Auch Senta ist schwarz gekleidet. Unter jungen hübschen, modisch zurechtgemachten Frauen sitzt sie als einzige tatsächlich am Spinnrad. Die Heimat, von der sie träumt, ist eine andere, innere. Sie möchte nirgendwo ankommen, sie möchte aufbrechen. So könnte ihre Beziehung mit dem Holländer vermutlich auch dann kaum funktionieren, wenn nicht der eifersüchtige, tumbe Jäger Erik mit seinem Schießgewehr die Angelegenheit endgültig beilegte. Die psychologisierende Ausdeutung des Regisseurs Kusej mag etwas weit hergeholt sein, ist aber über weite Strecken konsequent umgesetzt und wird durch eine stringente und detaillierte Personenführung beglaubigt. An einigen Stellen wäre etwas weniger Parallelaktion vielleicht mehr gewesen.
Die Aufführung findet sängerisch auf sehr hohem Niveau statt. Juha Uusitalo verfügt über eine starke, unheimliche Ausstrahlung und einen mächtigen, legatofähigen Charakterbariton, den er auch, vor allem im Duett mit Senta, klangvoll ins Piano zurücknehmen kann. Der Senta Catherine Naglestads fehlt es an dramatischem Fundament für die Partie. Sie gleicht dieses Defizit aber durch eine wunderbar fokussierte, leuchtende Höhe und vor allem intensives Spiel aus, was die Bildregie mit vielen Großaufnahmen ihres Gesichtes produktiv nutzt.
Weniger gut ist es um den Erik von Simon Jentzsch bestellt. Er hat eigentlich eine recht schöne, lyrische Stimme, aber die Höhe wirkt schmal, und ein baritonales Fundament ist überhaupt nicht zu hören. Vor allem in der Traumerzählung flüchtet er sich in den tief liegenden Passagen in eine Art Sprechgesang. Wohl um diese Probleme zu kaschieren singt er – technisch wie emotional – mit gewaltigem Überdruck. Da macht der Steuermann von Oliver Ringelhahn, der sein Lied als unterhaltende Touristenberuhigung exekutieren darf, einen weit besseren Eindruck, vor allem mit schöner, natürlich strömender Mittellage. Robert Lloyd verfügt nicht mehr über die stimmliche Autorität früherer Jahre, aber sein Daland besticht nach wie vor durch Bühnenpräsenz, Textverständlichkeit und Musikalität. Ein weiteres kleines Glanzlicht kommt von der entspannt singenden, sinnlich klingenden Maria Prudenskaja als Mary.
Ganz hervorragend ist die Bildregie von Jost Honselaar. In Ouvertüre und Zwischenakten lädt er zu konzentriertem Zuhören ein, indem er Dirigent und Musiker unter fast völligem Verzicht auf Totalen in Schwarzweiß filmt. Klanglich ist die DVD sehr solide ausbalanciert, vor allem im Verhältnis Sänger-Orchester. Das Booklet ist mit vielen gut reproduzierten Szenenfotos ausgestattet. Zusätzlich enthält die DVD ein vor allem informatives Making Off. So kann dieser 'Holländer', neben dem Münchner Film aus den 70er Jahren und der Bayreuther Kupfer-Produktion die einzige aktuell erhältliche DVD-Aufnahme des Werkes, als neue Referenzaufnahme gelten.
Andreas Valentin

www.amazon.com, 20. Juni 2011

At last a modern Hollander

At last a modern "Fliegende Holländer", conducted by that master conductor Haenchen, with the Netherlands Phil orchestra. He of the Dutch Ring fame, which uses the notes Wagner made during the 1876 first Ring. The tempi in this opera is swift which brings the emotion to the fore. Slow conducting is the death of opera. The staging is modern. Myth for today, not yesterday, or in the good old days. I like the ending when the tenor shoots both Senta and the Dutchman. A nice touch. The singers, Catherine Naglestad as Senta, Robert Lloyd, as Daland (He has been going for ages), Erik, Marco Jentzsch, the Dutchman, Juha Uusitalo are all good. (he is Wotan in the Valencia Ring). The other parts are well sung. The choir is a credit to the opera. I do not think the traditionalists will like the staging of this opera.So do not complain if you buy it, you have been warned.

El Nuevo Herald, 20.6.2011

Bienvenido verano, bienvenida ópera en DVD

... En las antípodas, El holandés errante por el enfant terrible Martin Kusej desde la Opera de Amsterdam fascina, irrita y subleva pero jamás deja indiferente. La acción ha sido cambiada a un crucero de lujo, no hay hilanderas sino un spa con piscina y todo, y sus pasajeros, durante una tempestad, confrontan a un ferry fantasma con una tripulación de parias y desterrados buscando asilo en el primer mundo, al que sugestivas puertas de cristal no los dejan acceder. Escapando de sus mundos respectivos el Holandés -sólido Juha Uusitalo- y Senta -una extraordinaria Catherine Naglestad- hallan la esperanza el uno en el otro siendo además, el único nexo entre ambas realidades. Es el alienado Eric -su prometido- el eje y disparador (literal) de la tragedia en un final insólito pero efectivo. El veteranísimo Robert Lloyd compone un Daland de ribetes únicos. Magnífica la dirección de Hartmut Haenchen en un solo, espaciado y detalladísimo, acto que árido e inhóspito visualmente alterna con momentos de deslumbrante belleza. Una versión que no admite términos medios: se ama o se odia.
Sebastian Spreng

http://super-conductor.blogspot.com, 16.6.2011

This brilliant, occasionally terrifying production of Wagner's Der Fliegende Holländer comes, appropriately enough, from the Netherlands Opera. It is conducted by Hartmut Haenchen, who led an interesting Dutch DVD set of The Ring a few years ago. In fact it's really good until it sinks (with all hands) in the final scene.

Things start promisingly. Director Martin Kusej moves the action to a cruise ship, perhaps somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle. Daland is a "Love Boat"captain in naval whites and mirror shades. The Steersman puts on a gold lamé jacket before singing. Daland's crew and the Sandwyk villagers are re-imagined as vulgar tourists, scurrying about in life vests, carrying suitcases, bathing poolside, and wearing "party wigs" in the final act. The Dutchman's crew are strange and shadowy, monk-like in dark cowls.

In the middle of all this we find the Dutchman, played with intensity by Finnish bass Juha Uusitalo. Mr. Uusitalo is a hulking, intimidating presence, under a bald pate and glaring through ice-blue eyes. It doesn't hurt that he has a voice to match, billowing and blustery when needed and bringing the power when needed to fight over the orchestra. He is in the position of a refugee seeking asylum, but is treated as an unwelcome intrusion of reality into the insulated world of Captain Daland's cruise ship.

Senta (Catherine Naglestad) is his ideal match, the one serious (old-fashioned?) woman on a ship full of frivolity. It is significant that she is the only one spinning in the second act. The other girls bully her and try to play "keep-away" with her wheel. The soprano sings with power, delivering a fine ballad and engaging in a powerful duet with Mr. Uusitalo helped by the conductor's crisp tempos. Their love affair is like the meeting of two high school nerds with limited social interactive ability. The big duet in Act II is both delicious and painful to watch.

Things come to a head in the Act III trio, with Marco Jentsch making a marginally sympathetic figure out of Erik. In a brilliant moment, this ensemble is performed with Mr. Uusuitalo onstage, and his emotional reactions at the dialogue between Senta and Erik is visceral, almost painful to watch. The trio that follows is everything it should be, the emotional core of the drama and Senta's conflict laid bare even as Wagner's orchestra batters at the senses. However, the unbelievable, altered ending (Erik shoots the Dutchman and Senta dead) kills the final act and leaves a sour taste.

Hartmut Haenchen opts for an energetic reading of the score, with the famous salt-spray figures and charging horns prominent in the famous overture. He takes the three acts without an intermission, but opts for Wagner's revised "redemption" music, both at the end of the Overture and the finale of the third act. The choral singing (all-important in this opera is tight and snappy, leading to a virtuoso moment in the third act when the two worlds collide. If it weren't for that ending, this Dutchman would be highly recommended.
Paul Pelonen

www.capriccio-kulturforum.de, 14. Juni 2011

Und das ist schlicht der beste "Holländer" den ich kenne. Die Regie ist kühn, aber nirgends gegen das Werk gerichtet - sogar der Sturm findet statt, und zwar so intensiv, daß man meint, man hätte selbst nasse Sachen am Leib. Musikalisch ist die Aufführung schlicht perfekt - vor allem Haenchens Dirigat fällt auf: Wie er einzelne Details völlig neu und ungewöhnlich gestaltet, ist eine tatsächlich neue Sicht auf dieses Werk - und eine faszinierende obendrein.

www.klassiekezaken.nl, 11.6.2011


Als De Nederlandse Opera er op uit is om verdeeldheid te zaaien dan was Der fliegende Holländer in de regie van e Oostenrijker Martin Kušej een schot in de roos. De commentaren varieerden van een ‘pionering vision’ tot de ‘flop van het seizoen’ en een tussenweg was nauwelijks mogelijk. Logisch. Kušej vertaalde de thematiek van Wagners vierde opera naar het hier en nu met cruiseschepen, luxueuze spa’s en de Holländer en consorten als een slag dreigende bootvluchtelingen. Hoewel Kušej dicht bij Wagners thematiek van enerzijds de zoektocht naar een thuis en anderzijds de ontsnapping aan de geborgenheid van de familie blijft, veroorloofde hij zich in zijn vertaling naar het hier en nu vrijheden die niet overal in goede aarde vielen. Maar of je nu van zijn interpretatie houdt of niet, de kwaliteit van de dvd-opname van de uitvoeringen van februari 2010 in Het Muziektheater is onberispelijk. Vanaf de meesterlijke ouverture tot het dramatische slot is het wat de kwaliteit van beeld en geluid (zowel stereo als surround) betreft louter genieten. Dat heeft ook alles te maken met het grootste pluspunt van deze productie. Hartmut Haenchen, voor het eerst sinds drie jaar weer terug in de bak, leidt het NedPhO naar briljante hoogten en ook de stemmen van onder anderen Juha Uusitalo (Der Holländer) en Catherine Naglstad (Senta) zijn een waar genot.
Paul Janssen

www.operadisc.com, 10.6.2011

Questa volta Kusej tenta la carta della riscrittura drammaturgica. L'azione si svolge ai giorni nostri. L'Olandese è un pirata che ha fatto fortuna nella tratta dei clandestini.
In cuor suo non è felice di questo stile di vita. Sebbene straricco si sente un emarginato evorrebbe riscattarsi entrando a far parte di quel mondo civile che desidera e allo stesso tempo disprezza.
L'occasione gli arriva da Daland, un ricco e azzimato capitano sulla settantina la cui nave (tipo Love Boat) è stata costretta ad un approdo di fortuna causa avaria. L'Olandese inquadra subito l'avidità di Daland e, mostrando rotoli di banconote per migliaia di euro,decide di usarlo per entrare nel bel mondo sposandone la figlia. Senta, la figlia di Daland, è esattamente speculare all'Olandese. La troviamo in una gigantesca beauty-farm circondata da signore mezze nude che si fanno i peli, si cospargono di creme e nuotano in piscina. Lei è un'isolata. Non solo è vestita di nero come l'Olandese (abbigliamento tipico da beauty-farm), ma siede ad un arcolaio (oggetto anche questo tipico di una beauty farm) e tiene in mano un dipinto ad olio con una marina (anche questo è un accessorio che tutte le signore si portano dietro quando vanno dall'estetista).
Una cosa è chiara: lei vorrebbe andarsene da questo mondo dove comanda l'edonismo, il denaro e la superficialità per seguire una vita più consapevole fatta di libertà e purezza.
Le amiche ovviamente, si limano le unghie e la prendono per il culo. Nel frattempo la nave dell'Olandese ha attraccato in città e il carico di clandestini immediatamente cerca di entrare dentro il lussuoso istituto di bellezza (tipico atteggiamento dei migranti quando sbarcano). Mentre Senta canta la ballata oltre la vetrata che separa la Spa dal resto del mondo avviene una carneficina. Alcuni sfortunati clandestini vengono massacrati tra schizzi di sangue e frattagliamenti vari dai vigilantes di Daland il cui capo è, ovviamente, Erik. Costui, smesso il tritacarne, come se niente fosse entra dentro l'istituto di bellezza con stivaloni e fucile senza che nessuna delle signore mezze nude si stupisca (anche questa tipica situazione da beauty-farm).
Gli uomini che entrano dentro la SPA aumentano; arriva Daland che presenta l'Olandese a Senta. Scatta il colpo di fulmine. A Senta piace quest'omone così diverso dai damerini da Vanity Fair da cui è circondata e all'omone intriga questa femmina che è vestita come lui e sa anche lavorare all'arcolaio. Drammaturgicamente però la situazione è strana. Per come l'ha impostata Kusej, i due sono destinati a non capirsi: l'Olandese vuole entrare nella beauty-farm mentre Senta vuole uscirne. Panico. Il regista risolve alla maniera di Salomone: tutto il duetto si svolge con L'Olandese da una parte e Senta dall'altra per concludersi -tanto per non saper nè leggere nè scrivere- con un baciotto sulla bocca come da programma.
Festa sul molo. Dopo tutti i soldi spesi nella beauty-farm le signore vogliono farsi vedere e quindi entriamo un rave party organizzato sulla spiaggia dove questo edonisti gaudenti gozzovigliano senza curarsi di un gruppetto di uomini che stanno sulla riva con tanto di felpe dal cappuccio rialzato. Sono i clandestini dell'Olandese che fanno "Hoho hoej" con le mani acucchiaio attorno all bocca e mettono in fuga la combriccola dei festaioli. Arrivano, non si sa da dove, anche Senta, l'Olandese ed Erik, terzettano per un po' fermi come statue, poi Erik abbatte la coppia trasgressiva a fucilate.Sipario. Non c'è nulla da aggiungere a questo noioso, prevedibile, infantile allestimento in cui la sermoneggiante moralina di Kusej sull'indifferenza della nostra società di fronte ai mali del mondo raggiunge vette di grottesco assoluto. Fortuna vuole che a capo dell'operazione ci sia la Naglestad. La voce è usurata da una carriera massacrante fatta di Alcine, Turandot, Semiramidi, Brunnhildi e Tosche, ma il taglio del personaggio è suggestivo, il lavoro sulla parola emozionante, certe soluzioni timbriche davvero mozzafiato. Un'artista maiuscola. Uusitalo è più convenzionale. Fisicamente un sosia del Vincent D'Onofrio di Full Metal Jacket,il basso baritono finlandese disegna il solito Olandese tonitruante ed estroverso come ne abbiamo sentito migliaia. Purtroppo, quando la parte si fa scopertamente vocalistica (inizio del duetto) siamo a un pelo dallo scrocco. Comunque si guadagna la pagnotta senza infamia e senza lode. Lloyd è Daland. Ha settant'anni e si sentono tutti in una voce che ha ormai perso qualsiasi risonanza. Però certe frasi hanno un'incisività, una pregnanza, un equilibrio da far dimenticare alcune fastidiose afonie. Marco Jentzsch è Erik. Il peggiore del cast, in difficoltà nel tenere la linea vocale, dubbioso nell'intonazione. Dirige Haenchen con mano pesante durante gli uragani e tempi larghi e sussurri estatici nel resto. Qualità video e audio mozzafiato. Inutile making-of di venti minuti senza nemmeno un intervento del regista. Alla larga. WSM

WIENER ZEITUNG, 9. Juni 2011

Der Höhenflug des Holländers

Diese Aufführung ist schlicht und einfach eine Sensation! Sie ist musikalisch so aufregend wie szenisch. Martin Kusej erzählt Richard Wagners Gespenstergeschichte "Der fliegende Holländer" modern, aber er bleibt am Werk, soll heißen: Wind, Wetter und unheimliche Stimmung teilen sich in dieser Aufführung stärker mit als in so mancher romantischen Ausstattungsorgie. Dirigent Hartmut Haenchen erweist sich als einer der besten Wagner-Dirigenten des Tonträger-Zeitalters: Er wagt einerseits extreme Tempi, etwa im wunderbar ausgekosteten Steuermannslied oder in der rasend vorangepeitschten Ouvertüre, andererseits behält er die Detailzeichnung im Auge und verleiht Wagners Musik derart scharfe Konturen, dass sie völlig neu und heutig klingt. Man spürt das revolutionäre Feuer Wagners, der mit seiner wilden Stilmischung drauf und dran ist, die Oper als Horrorthriller zu definieren: Musiktheater zum Nägelabkauen – ein Ereignis! Übrigens: Die "Holländer"-Blue-ray ist der DVD an Bildschärfe und Klangschönheit deutlich überlegen.

www.amazon.com, 8. Juni 2011

5 out of 5 stars
Modern and Faithful

As a Wagner fanatic, I have always loved The Flying Dutchman. The music-drama's timeless themes of human kinds search for unrequinted love and redemption in an imperfect world ( themes that later reached their fulfillment in Tristan Und Isolde) have always had special meaning for me. These themes, of course, are most perfectly expressed in the works' music. Wagner got the inspiration for the music during a stormy voyage to London in his early 20's. Now listen to the overture and it makes perfect sense.
As for my review of this production, I absolutely love it. I watched it the other night with complete delight. Catherine Naglestad and Juha Uusitalo are wonderful as Senta and the Dutchman. My most pleasant suprise, however, was Robert Lloyd as Daland. Yes Robert Lloyd! It was awesome to see that after all these years he is still going strong. I have the Lohengrin dvd where he performed along with Placido Domingo and that was well over 20 years ago. One of the key moments in the Flying Dutchman is Dalands' aria in act two where he introduces the Dutchman to his daughter Senta. Robert lloyd pulls it off perfectly and I was cheering! The madiens chorus in act two is awesome and you will love the apparel. Check out Mary!
This is a "modern" production and I understand some may not like it. For me, however, what is most important is the sincerity of the production, how the music is performed, and the singers. All these aspects are great. The Blu Ray makes it even better. Enjoy.
Dennis A. Brown

DER SPIEGEL, 4. Juni 2011

Operninszenierungen im DVD-Format können leicht auf langweilige Bilderfolgen zusammenschnurren. Wie man es besser macht, zeigt eine Aufnahme von Richard Wagners "Fliegendem Holländer" aus Amsterdam. Allerdings schippern die Seemänner hier in ungewohnten Regie-Wassern.

Das Meer! Gleich rauschen uns die Wellen entgegen, wenn die DVD von Richard Wagners "Der fliegende Holländer" startet. Bei der Menüwahl und der Ouvertüre tost und braust es, allerdings schwarz-weiß verfremdet, es regnet und stürmt, und das Orchester erscheint erst einmal nur fragmentarisch in den schnell geschnittenen Bildern. Das wird kein "Holländer" von der DVD-Stange, so viel ist schnell sicher.

Kein Wunder, denn die Oper inszenierte Martin Kušej 2010 in Amsterdam, und der bürstet Opernstoffe gerne gegen den Strich. Da mussten sich auch die Produzenten dieser Fassung (Joost Honselaar, Coby Van Dijck) Kušej anpassen. Kušej wäre ja vor Jahren fast einmal in Bayreuth gelandet, doch seine technisch ausgefallenen Regie-Ideen verschreckten den damaligen Chef Wolfgang Wagner derart, dass man lieber auf seine Dienste verzichtete. Keinen Kušej-"Parsifal" gab es 2004, dafür holte man Schlingensief.
Im Amsterdam stellte Martin Kušej einen "Holländer" auf die Bühne, der wenig mit Seefahrer-Romantik und den märchenhaften Zügen des Stoffes zu tun hatte, sondern eher nach tieferen Seelen-Schichten und aktuellen Bezügen buddelte. Das geht bunt los: Erst einmal kein Schiff, kein Riff, kein Segel, dafür so etwas wie eine gestrandete Kreuzfahrt-Besatzung, grelle Klamotten und Reisetaschen, alle nass, frisch und forsch. Ein Matrosen-Chor wie eine Reisegesellschaft unter Stress. Dazu ein Kapitän Daland, der mit Sonnenbrille und weißem Anzug ganz auf eine Mixtur aus Traumschiff-Kapitän und Yacht-Millionär gestylt ist. Das Ganze wirbelt auf einer in ihrer Tiefe zweigeteilten Bühne herum, deren Mitte der Eingang eines Bürohauses teilt. Glastüren als Weltentrenner von Daland und Holländer. Wasser taucht später nur als Pool-Befüllung auf, mehr Meer gibt es nicht - erst ganz am Schluss, als monochromes Panoramabild.

Meer ist nicht drin

Die Bühne baute wieder Martin Zehetgruber, ein langjähriger Mitstreiter von Kušej, der sich bestens auf die Ideen seines Kompagnons versteht. (Beide verbindet auch die 1989 von ihnen gegründete Produktionsgemeinschaft "My Friend Martin.")

Auch Kostümbildnerin Heide Kastler gehört zu diesem festen Team, und ihre Entwürfe prägen die Amsterdamer Inszenierung ebenso wie Regie und Musik. Die schwarze Crew des Holländers streift wie eine Ghetto-Gang in Hoodies über die Bühne, der düstere Chef auf der Suche nach seiner Erlösung trägt ebenso Schwarz, was den statuesken, riesigen und für diese Rolle idealen Juha Uusitalo noch bedrohlicher erscheinen lässt: ein trauriger, böser Riese mit mächtiger Stimme. Der finnische Bassist erfüllt die Rolle buchstäblich nach Maß, ein Wagner-Sänger aus dem Bilderbuch, auch seine Wotan-Interpretation gilt als Weltklasse.

Für die vom Vater als Holländer-Erlöserin eingeplante Senta ließ sich Kastler eine gleichfalls schwarze, lange Robe einfallen, deren edle Schlichtheit sogleich die Beziehung zum Holländer unterstreicht, die ja eben nur oberflächlich von ähnlichen Motiven getragen wird. Auch Senta ist ein Fremdkörper in ihrer Welt, sie kontrastiert optisch und gestisch heftig zur biederen Bürgerlichkeit ihrer Gesellschaft, die Kušej als Wellness-Spa darstellt. Da wird gebadet, massiert, gecremt und gestylt. Spinnstube ade - man vermisst sie nicht wirklich.

Allein wie die US-Amerikanerin Catherine Naglestad diese herbe, melancholische Senta singt, das hat fast Ibsen-Zuschnitt. Sie macht mit glänzendem Sopran und einfühlsamer Gestaltung aus ihrer Rolle eine bewegende, manchmal abgründige Studie.

Liebes- und Lebensqualen

Zu jeder Minute der DVD besticht hierbei die Kameraführung, die nicht allein der Dramaturgie, sondern dem Geist und Stil der Inszenierung folgt und die Leistungen der Akteure besser sichtbar macht, als es jede Theatervorstellung kann. Robert Lloyd bleibt mit seinem sauber gesungenen Daland darstellerisch etwas zurück, aber dafür windet sich der abgewiesene Senta-Verehrer Erik, Marco Jentzsch, unterkühlt und überzeugend in allen Liebes- und Lebensqualen, ganz wie in einer Kušej-Theaterinszenierung.

Mit dem in Dresden geborenen Hartmut Haenchen steht nicht nur ein Amsterdam-erfahrener Dirigent am Pult (er leitete das dortige Opernorchester von 1986 bis 1999), sondern auch ein Kenner des deutschen Bühnenrepertoires. Er studierte in seinen Jugendjahren Wagner-Interpretationen in Bayreuth und begann seine Karriere in Halle und Dresden. Sein "Holländer" strotzt vor Kraft, doch bei allen Druckwellen des Orchesterklanges schafft Haenchen stets klare Konturen und differenzierte Dynamik. Ein solcher, Kušej-geprägter "Holländer" ist sicher nicht jedermanns Sache, aber allein als Dokument einer gelungenen Zusammenarbeit lohnt sich diese DVD schon - und als Beispiel für vorbildlichen Umgang mit dem Medium.
Werner Theurich

www.wagneropera.net 10.6.2011

Going Dutch

Strong singing and acting by most of its principals and a taut dramatic arc make this Netherlands Opera performance of Die fliegende Holländer one of the best releases in Opus Arte’s expanding Blu-ray/DVD catalogue of Wagner’s works.
Director Martin Kušej and set designer Martin Zehetgruber’s sleek, contemporary interpretation transcends a lot of pitfalls that mar many contemporary régie stagings.
And the two leads, bass-baritone Juha Uusitalo (the Dutchman) and soprano Catherine Naglestad (Senta), deliver career-defining performances in this Dutch production, filmed during two live performances in February 2010.

Uusitalo is a variable singer but he sings powerfully whilst communicating his character’s anxiety and yearning for redemption. When he mistakenly believes Senta has betrayed him, Uusitalo’s anguish is captured in camera close-ups. Certainly Uusitalo is a more compelling Dutchman than he was in Wotan in Valencia’s recently released La Fura del Bas Ring cycle. The Nederlandse Opera’s white unit set provides a much more intimate setting for Uusitalo to develop his character.

Scintillating Senta

Naglestad is an appealing, intense Senta. She conveys the character’s fierce independence and yearning to escape her nouveau-riche environment. While Naglestad does not possess the blazing upper register of her forebear, Leonie Rysanek, Nagelstad’s kinetic stage presence evokes Rysanek’s scorching assumption of Senta decades ago.
Though she wears an almost funeral, floor-length black dress throughout the production, Naglestad’s character seems more a 21st-century liberated woman than a delusional, self-sacrificing romantic heroine.

Mary and the women chorus in Act II are clad in garish contemporary outfits and the bar-hopping clothes the festive party goers wear during Act III contrast with the somber outfits worn by Senta, the Dutchman and the Dutchman’s crew, which in this production are a group of hooded dark-skinned immigrants (and one of the production’s few miscalculations).

Tenor Marco Jentzsch (Erik) and mezzo-soprano Marina Prudenskaja (Mary) are much more vivid secondary characters than one usually experiences in performances of this opera. Jentzsch’s strong lower register may result in his being assigned more important Wagner roles in years to come.

A lighter tenor, Oliver Ringelhahn, is an appealing steersman-cum-lounge singer. However, bass Robert Lloyd (Daland) sounds vocally underpowered. Too many years have passed since Lloyd’s appearance as the youthful, noble Gurnemanz in Hans-Jürgen Syberberg’s 1981 Parsifal film.

Veteran Netherlands Opera Hartmut Haenchen and the Netherlands Philharmonic craft a detailed, spirited reading of the score and the choristers, led by Martin Wright, busily move about the stage in this energetic staging. At times, the rushing to and fro seems very derivative of Patrice Chereau’s blocking in the 1976 Ring cycle.

Immigrant Status

Since the Netherlands and other European countries are wrestling with immigrant issues, Kušej may be trying to make a socially conscious statement by depicting the Dutchman’s crew as displaced immigrants. If so, the concept may have backfired. Does having the immigrants careen threateningly about the stage in Act II expose phobias some have towards immigrants from emerging nations? Or does it reinforce these phobias?
After one of the dead immigrants falls into the swimming pool, his blood reddens the water. A somewhat similar and equally gratuitous moment occurs when Alberich rips out a young swimmer’s heart in the the Danish Opera’s production of Das Rheingold and the aquarium water turns red.

Withal, the Nederlandse DVD’s sharply focused camera work, crisp editing, and vibrant sound are plusses, as is the high-quality resolution in the Blu-ray disk I viewed. Even more importantly, the performance's musical values and strong acting make this Holländer one of the best Wagner releases in recent years.
Jerry Floyd

http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk, 3.6.2011

A highly imaginative rethink of a difficult early Wagner opera, which boasts a superb orchestral account of the score from Hartmut Haenchen.
Der fliegende Holländer is curiously imbalanced between his newer s