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The Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner

The production on this DVD represents the best that Bayreuth, if not opera itself, can be.

Kupfer and his forces attain Wagner's concept of Gesamtkunstwerk. Everything supports Kupfer's idea that the events are a product of Senta's desperate attempt to escape the crushing dullness of her Ibsenesqe reality. Sykora's sets fly up and down, fold in and out, to move from gray confinement to desperate escape. Balslev's voice, face, and body perfectly convey Senta's psychotic state. Mary seems somewhat shady, Eric maintains a constants state of panic, and Daland ends up helpless. The blocking of the chorus alternately represents the disapproval of Senta's peers (in the second act) and the wild product of her imagination (in the third). The choice of the harder Dresden version of the score, especially at the end, suits the ultimate failure to which both the Dutchman and Senta are doomed.

Even the Bayreuth production style - no audience, no images of the conductor and orchestra, no curtain calls - helps to underscore that this is cold reality in spite of a thrilling theatrical performance.

The musical forces meet the high standard set by the production. Salminen, as usual, pours out floods of his richly sonorous, distinctive bass. Estes sings as strong as he looks, while maintaining a smooth legato. Balslev tackles Senta - a role as hard if not as long as Isolde - successfully. Her bottom and top are equally strong and the sound of her voice, strong yet fragile, fits the part. When you have someone the caliber of Graham Clark singing the Steuermann, you know even the smaller parts have been cast with an eye to quality singing.

And a BIG taste of what you'll see and hear...

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  • Barbel B.

    To those of you new to the Opera Meetup at the Chapel Hill Seymour Sr. Center - please be aware that most of our members follow us via email alerts from the Seymour Senior Center and their publications. Our average attendance at a performance is between 35 and 50, so never fear of a cancellation because of a low posted confirmation here on the Meetup site.

    January 10, 2014

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