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Der Fliegende Hollander

“Beautifully played but dramatically inert”
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In Wagner’s Der Fliegende Hollander, the ‘romantic wanderer’ figure takes on a supernatural element. The titular sea-captain is condemned to sail the oceans in a state of limbo. Every seven years he is cast ashore; if he then finds a woman who pledges to be faithful to him, the curse will be lifted.

Thomas Guthrie’s new production gives no inkling of the Dutchman’s and his prospective wife Senta’s need for each other (she has become fixated with him as a legendary figure). The stand-and-deliver approach is often executed such as to choke any meaningful interaction between the characters. This also goes for the earlier scene between Senta’s father Daland and the Dutchman. Here Daland (sung by Richard Wiegold) struggles to project any expression of character or feeling, while the Dutchman (Simon Thorpe) lacks presence and, in lower writing, occasionally veers off-course like his fateful vessel.

Erik (Jonathan Stoughton, singing through an illness) sounded tired by Act III, but William Wallace sings the Steersman with power, if with a too-Italianate ring. Kirstin Sharpin is vocally in control as Senta, but Carolyn Dobbin’s Mary has the most beautiful voice: a brief but delicious encounter for the ear.

Despite the wooden presentation, there are some nice touches to the production. Miniature chocolate-box houses, lit from within, convey a calm community disrupted by the new arrivals; the painted backdrops are atmospherically lit; and there’s an innovative stroke in the song of the Dutchman’s’ ghostly crew being prerecorded and heard over a transistor radio.

The chorus is fresh and stimulating especially in Act III and the playing in the pit, under British Wagnerian Anthony Negus, is gutsy and disciplined, especially in the strings. But for them the lack of heart elsewhere would be hard to stomach.


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Production Details
Production nameDer Fliegende Hollander
VenueLongborough Festival Opera
LocationMoreton-in-Marsh
StartsJune 6, 2018
EndsJune 13, 2018
Running time4hrs 15mins
ComposerRichard Wagner
DirectorThomas Guthrie
ConductorAnthony Negus
Set designerRuth Paton
Costume designerRuth Paton
Lighting designerBen Ormerod
CastCarolyn Dobbin, Jonathan Stoughton, Kirstin Sharpin, Richard Wiegold, Simon Thorpe, William Wallace
Stage managerJo Alexander, Oran O’Neill, Remi Bruno Smith
Head of wardrobeJuliette Craft
ProducerLongborough Festival
VerdictDramatically inert new production saved by the orchestra under veteran Wagner interpreter Anthony Negus
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