David's Review Corner, 01. June 2011
Taking place today, the bedraggled crew and passengers come into the harbour’s terminal building following a rough crossing in stormy conditions. That is the opening scene in this updated production of Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollander, directed by Martin Kusej. For the second act we are in a swimming baths scenario with a little topless female nudity to add spice. That Senta should still seen spinning wool so as to meet the story is one of those things Kusej cannot modernise, and there are many other points where action and story come adrift. But in today’s drive to up-date every opera ever written, he comes close to a credible alternative. It is at the very close when Erik, Santa’s intended husband, shoots both Senta and the Dutchman that he comes very much at odds with Wagner’s whole concept. Those familiar with the Wagner’s original will know that we should be on the rugged Norwegian coast where Daland’s boat has been blown off course, and having set anchor finds another boat doing much the same nearby. But his crew begin to realise that the other boat are ‘dead or like dragons’. It is the boat of The Flying Dutchman cursed to sail the seven seas for ever until he finds a woman true to him even unto death. That story had fascinated Senta, the daughter of the captain of the Norwegian boat. She is seen with her female friends spinning and they sing a song to complement the rhythm of the wheels. They tease her about her fascination with the story of the Dutchman whose painting is in the room. That man she recognises when her father brings home the captain from the boat docked near his. She falls in love with him, as she is destined to do, and when he eventually departs she leaps into the sea to relieve him of the curse. Vocally this performance, filmed in the Amsterdam Music Theatre early last year, is outstanding, the large frame of Juha Uusitalo to back-up a vocally resplendent voice looks and sounds exactly as I would imagine the Dutchman. Catherine Naglestad is in the line of great Wagnerian lyric sopranos able when called upon to add some robust sounds. Marco Jentzsch makes far more of Erik than we are used to, and Robert Lloyd is the dandy who captains the Norwegian boat. Spirited playing from the Netherlands Philharmonic with Hermut Haenchen on the rostrum, the film presentation seeks to be different. The disc also comes in standard DVD, OA1049D.