Sep 09

Der Fliegende Holländer, by Richard Wagner, conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, starring Donald McIntyre as der fliegende Holländer, and Catarina Ligendza as Senta ?????

This opera production has received mixed reviews with Amazon.com, being that it was a filmed version and not a staged version of the opera, and that there were short deletions in the full performance of the opera. I can appreciate criticisms regarding deletions, but not on objection to the opera being filmed in life-like circumstances. I consider the opposite of film versions, to be minimalist opera, which seems to be exactly fly in the face as to why composers wrote operas rather than oratorios–because they expected the staging/scenery to contribute to the statement of the opera. To change the scene from what the composer wrote is (in my not so humble) opinion similar to changing the musical script itself. Meanwhile, back to this opera. First, the musical performance was superb. Both McIntyre and Ligendza have superb voices, and the supporting vocalists were all first class. The live scenery was more effective at conveying the opera story than a staged version would have ever done. Of the two things that have made opera accessible to modern populaces, undertitles (supratitles at the opera) and filmed versions have been the most effective at spreading the appeal of opera to normal folk. I would certainly like to see more productions like this, especially with the Wagner operas, such as Tannhäuser or der Meistersinger. While playing this opera, I asked Betsy to guess the composer, and she was quite surprised to learn that it was Wagner. She had thought that Wagner did not write melodious opera that could appeal to all. This opera, and this production in particular, is a wonderful way to begin entry into the world of Wagner, before tackling his more mature works.

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