Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Flying Dutchman

VDH sent me a link yesterday for a free live web transmission of Wagner's Flying Dutchman at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège. And also for free streaming from La Monnaie, the Belgian National Opera House. Here I was, thinking that all there was online was the Met. How wrong I was. If I start looking, I'll probably find another dozen opera houses streaming their live performances free of charge. I guess they do it as a way to attract new audiences, who may then go onto actually buying a ticket some day.

I haven't reached a stage yet where I'm comfortable with Wagner, apart from Tristan & Isolde, with its beautiful sweeping music. I did watch the whole performance of the Flying Dutchman though. It's one of Wagner's shorter operas, at two and a half hours. I can't say I loved it, but I did appreciate the music and the drama. Maybe it was the speakers on my laptop, but I didn't think that the voices were very strong at the start. It did improve when I moved to my iPad with headphones, so I think the problem was at my end. The lady who sang  Senta, Manuela Uhl, sounded to me like the perfect Wagner singer, beautiful voice, full of thrills. But she wasn't fat! So that killed one of my preconceptions about Wagner operas! And Mark Rucker, the Flying Dutchman, was a big presence on stage.

The set was interesting, but maybe distracting too. One of the first scenes is on the deck of a ship caught in a storm, and that was nicely done, with projections representing the huges waves pummeling the boat, and the cast leaning left and right, just like on the deck of the Starship Enterprise! When the Flying Dutchman arrives, the ground lifts up to reveal a vision of hell, with skeletons and giant red cobwebs. I quite liked that bit. The set and production reverted to a more static form after that, not quite as dramatic.

From what I can see on the website, they will offer a replay on the 17th & 18th of December. Keep an eye out for it. Also available on the site are cast interviews and promotional clips.

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