Monday, 24 August 2015

Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 15th August

My final evening in Bayreuth took place with a performance of the first Wagner opera I ever heard: the flying dutchman. I did have a very cheap seat, so I did not see much of the stage (which probably was not a bad thing at all). Jan Philipp Gloger's production is quite boring and it would not have made a difference if they had played it without production. Christof Hetzer's staging looked funny and interesting from time to time but not more. Karin Jud's costumes also were boring and seemed thoughtlessly.
Conductor Axel Kober and the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele gave a marvelous performance with extreme accuracy and exemplary phrasing. The orchestra played so accentuated and accurately that the results were thrilling. The Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele was even better. For me the choir was one of the highlights with their several famous scenes. They performed really magnificently and especially the great choir scene at the beginning of the third act was marvelous.
Benjamin Bruns gave a strong performance as Steuermann with his powerful light tenor voice. His timbre is a mix of heroic and youthful and worked perfectly in this role. Christa Mayer once again gave a solid performance in the small role of Mary (what a luxurious choice once more). This time her lower register and her agility fitted wonderfully into the vocal requirements of the role. Her acting was lovely and cute.
Tomislav Mužek sang the role of Erik ( I already heard him in this role in Dresden in June). Still I think that he is not yet ready for this role. I often think that Erik is casted with voices that are too light and not dramatic enough. If you study the score it is clear that the role calls for a dramatic tenor with a youthful timbre. Mužek might become a good Erik but for now I think he should sing lighter repertoire.
Daland was sung by Kwangchul Youn who has a strong profound bass voice with a very dark and serious timbre. I probably liked him best because his performance was more than solid and he was able to portray his character very appropriately.
Ricarda Merbeth sang Senta and showed that this role is more difficult than most people might think. Merbeth hit every note and her diction was very clear (even though it sounded weird from time to time). But to sing Wagner means more than just hit the right notes. You could clearly hear that her voice is not dramatic enough and her acting is just hidious. Very often she showed that she is not able to sing the very accentuated dramatic parts of the role appropriately. She should go on singing roles of the lyric-dramatic fach because that is where her voice belongs.
The title role was performed by Samuel Youn who also hit all notes without problems, but I missed the interpretation. For me he is not a real dutchman because he was not able to deliver the character appropriately. Normally one should fear this strange creepy character but Youn was not able to fill the role with life.
I was a little bit disappointed by the casting but had a nice evening anyway (thanks to orchestra and choir). There is space for improvement when it comes to casting in Bayreuth (as well as the productions). I still enjoyed it and give 8 stars to the performance.

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