Metropolitan Opera House
6 March 2020
Der fliegende Hollände
Music: Richard Wagner; Libretto:Richard-Wagner/Heinrich Heine
Dutchman, Evgeny Nikitin; Senta, Anja Kampe ; Erik, Sergey Skorokhodov; Daland, Franz-Josef Selig; Mary, Mihoko Fujimura; Steersman, David Portillo; Senta Dancer, Alison Clancy;
Conductor, Valery Gergiev; Production, François Girard; Set designer, John Macfarlane; Costume designer, Moritz Junge; Lighting designer, David Finn; Projection Designer, Peter Flaherty; Choreographer, Carolyn Choa; Dramaturg, Serge Lamothe
Friday night performance of Der Fliegender Hollander at the Met, 6 March 2020. A delightful trip to NYC with sister Mattie and we visited with Fran, who lives in Manhattan. This was our last major activity before Covid shut the world down.
I had been looking forward to this new production of Dutchman for over a year. Considered going to Quebec to see it summer 2019, but decided not to. This was a production designed by François Girard, who created the Parsifal from 2013 — which I loved (see Wagner Winter Weekend — we saw it live in the theatre in 2018), so expectations were high.
Truth be told, we were disappointed. How could anything measure up to the sublime Parsifal, that made all the previous productions seem anachronistic?
We blamed a lot of it on the conductor. In many parts the orchestra overpowered the singers, and I even heard what sounded, to my untrained ear, like some flubs in some of the sections. Thing about some of the out-there productions of Wagner is that the music shines through anyway. And there was nothing hideously wrong with this production — not a circus or a freak show. Just not as entrancing as I was hoping. Didn’t come up to the standard of Girard’s Parsifal. He’s scheduled to create Lohengrin at the Met next season. Fingers crossed.
We were looking forward to seeing the production in the HD format the next Saturday, but of course, everything was shuttered by then.
So, another Covid explanation ¾ The HD performance was cancelled but they had filmed a practice run of it so that’s what’s on the Met on Demand site now. Here’s what they say about it as an introduction
In March 2020, the Met made the difficult choice to cancel the remainder of the 2019–20 season in an effort to keep audiences, performers, and staff members safe from the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision also meant ending the Live in HD season early, only days before a scheduled transmission of François Girard’s stirring new production of Der Fliegende Holländer. Fortunately, as part of regular preparations for an HD broadcast, a prior performance of the opera was recorded as a camera rehearsal . . .
So this is based on the in-house experience and a few viewings on TV. As we thought, the projected performance came off better — better sound and not as dark because of the backlighting. But still really dark. Such that the final act party looked more like a funeral. OK, that could be intentional but no festivity, no cheer. Just saying . . .
The overture sounds over a big eye in the background with a dancing figure, presumably Senta (based on the red dress — she’s the only character who wears a color) gyrating to the music. I’m not sure if directors think we all don’t have the attention span for just music so they add these dance figures. Sometimes it adds something, sometimes it just distracts. This one wasn’t so bad, although not necessary, IMO.