Review: Royal Opera House - The Flying Dutchman @ Cardiff Cineworld
Without being like Ben Whishaw (who spoke of his distaste for it), I left my views about theatre screenings into cinemas at the door. This does, after all, allow people all over the globe the opportunity to see world-class drama, opera and ballet in a local cinema to them. But, it could never rival the true experience of live theatre.
I, of course, needed little persuasion to see Wagner's The Flying Dutchman, staged by Royal Opera House. This is Wagner on the brink of great successes. His later operatic output would double in length and demand a huge amount out of audiences (who still queue up and pay small fortunes to hear his work). Arguably his first work of worth, Dutchman helped develop his rich and complex musical pallet; the likes of which he would carry on in his music until his death.
The Dutchman is doomed to sail the seas forever. Only once every seven years can he dock on land. Whoever can give him love shall redeem him as a loving partner. He meets Daland, and his daughter, Senta is destined to marry him. Obsessed with his story, Senta knows she can redeem him. Her boyfriend, Eric would have things to say on that. The opera ends with great tragedy, but with a redemptive nature and peace-making.
Directed by Tim Albery, this version seems to tackle the lives of the bleak and brutal fish trawlers that you may have seen on digital TV. The other half of the show, being a sort of mid-20th century homage, was pulled off well in a grand and intense tour de force. With the stormy overture being a standard ten minutes (long, as always with Wagner), the set utilised a lighthouse effect, as a huge lamp oscillated around the stage and thin silks quivered all over the stage - all adding to an effective evocation of the sea.
Our Bryn Terfal is a Wagner singer of the highest pedigree. Although known for his Figaro and Falstaff, when playing Wotan, The Dutchman or even Hans Sachs, the role is always his. His murky, strident baritone is balanced with a transfixed theatrical presence. In short, Bryn is dynamite.
Adrianne Pieczonka was an obsessed and passionate Senta. Peter Rose (who was declared ill but still happy to perform) was a salty sea dog of a Daland, calas and cunning, and slightly over-bearing when his daughter and the Dutchman first meet.
Erik is a terribly one-dimensional character, who can only try to get Senta back. Here sung by Michael Konig, he tried to make the role more interesting but fails in his nagging and possessive nature.
Ed Lyon was the hunky, finely-sung Steersman (thank goodness he rolled around in the pool of water at front stage). His song of his love on land is filled with folksy point and sea-swept grief.
This is a work that could have easily been half the size (some scenes do drag). Without an interval, this two and a half hours can feel laborious. But, you always feel refreshed coming out.
It felt strange to applaud passionately in the cinema to a cast of people who could sadly not hear you.
Perhaps those who have never done opera should give the cinema screenings a go?
Rating: 4 Stars
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- Review: WNO - Lohengrin @ WMC
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Photo Credits: Tristram Kenton