Friday, 22 July 2016

Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer - Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater

Performance 19th July

Continuing the festival season I went to see the production of Wagner's Holländer. The production (I already saw it in Graz some years ago) was created by Peter Konwitschny and is an interesting mix of new and old. Stage and costumes were designed by Johannes Leiacker featured historical parts for the Holländer crew and more modern ones for the people of Daland's village. Everything looked really nicely and made sense alltogether (even the gym in act 2). The conduct of the roles was not as interesting as in other Konwitschny productions but still featured some interesting details and showed that Konwitschny has a deep understanding of Wagner's operas. The only deficit (and I really hated that idea) was that the orchestra stopped playing live after Senta's last line and we heard the music from speakers instead. I do not need to come to the opera to hear music from the speakers! I actually think that many people in the audience were quite offended by this fact.
Musically it was quite ambivalent due to the lead of Asher Fish who did not really convince me with his conducting. He did not seem to have full control over the orchestra and there simply were many inaccuracies. The Bayerisches Staatsorchester did its best, but simply could not convince that evening. The whole performance just did not sound passionately and as thrillingly as usually. Also the Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper was not really balanced that evening and sounded a bit uninspiredly. Sometimes the sopranos were covered by the rest and it just did not convince me during that performance.
Dean Power sang the role of the Steuermann and it was a pity that he did not sing more. His youthful bright tenor voice has a very pleasant fresh timbre and he seemed to feel very comfortable with that role. However he would definitely be worth a bigger role than that.
Okka von der Damerau was a luxurious Mary with her wonderful warm dark mezzo voice that is heard over the orchestra easily at any time. Her voice is not just powerful but also has a very beautiful timbre and her phrasing shows great musicality.
Wookyung Kim sang the role of Erik with a very Italian manner which seems appropriate for that role. Especially his aria during the final act was really nice with his bright tenor voice and his very elegant phrasing.
In the role of Daland we heard Wagner royalty Matti Salminen who still has a very powerful bass voice with a very dark timbre. He might not be as fresh as 10 years ago, but he still can pull it off very well and gave a wonderful thrilling performance.
American soprano Catherine Naglestad sang Senta which is one of her signature roles. Alltogether she did a good job despite of some moments when she seemed out of her comfort zone. Her voice has a very lyrical quality but is able to be very dramatic as well. While her top notes sounded brilliantly without effort, the lower register sometimes tended to have a very nasal timbre. I think that evening was not her best and she normally would be better.
The definite highlight of the evening was Johan Reuter in the title role. I simply cannot imagine this role to be sung better than Reuter did it that evening. His powerful dark baritone voice had everything it calls for: power, stamina, the grim timbre and the ability to convey the melancholy of his character. It was a more than pleasing performance by Reuter and I have to say, he definitely is the best Holländer I ever heard live.
The performance was a nice evening for sure with some really good singing and a production that is worth exploring it. That is why I would give 8 stars to it.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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