26 February 2009

Tim Albery with a new Dutchman at ROH

Bryn Terfel
Bryn Terfel and Anja Kampe in The Flying Dutchman at Royal opera House. Photo: Clive Barda

A new production of Der fliegende Holländer (director is Tim Albery) premiered at Covent Garden three days ago. The Daily Telegraph is most enthusiastic about it. Here are some excerpts:

Bryn Terfel's Flying Dutchman appears a haunted and weary man, who seems to know from the start that his bid to break the curse that binds him to sail the seas for eternity will fail. He starts his great monologue Die Frist ist um, The Time is up, in a chilling sotto voce, which builds to a magnificent outpouring of rage, fear, despair and a thread of hope.

In fabulously good voice, carving a majestic legato line, Terfel goes on to give a performance of the grandest Wagnerian stature and, if nothing quite matches the impact he makes in this opening scene, the fault is Wagner's, not his. The remainder of the opera is dominated by Anja Kampe's equally powerful Senta [...] she sings this killingly difficult role with thrilling abandon and intensity, etching a sharp characterisation of a neurotic obsessive on a psychologically suicidal course.

Tim Albery's admirably lucid and focused production frames these two unforgettable interpretations with an abstract but undistractingly modern setting, designed by Michael Levine. [...] The conductor Marc Albrecht makes a great success in his Covent Garden debut, sustaining a long (two and a half hours, without an interval) but deeply rewarding evening. Refusing to rush things or whip up excitement with empty fortissimo, he establishes a firm underpinning dramatic pulse and relishes the passages where Wagner lets his hair down and pays tribute to Weber's folksy charm with a catchy, lilting tune.

Read the whole review here
ROH - Dutchman web page


Mark Berry said...

Sometimes one wonders whether the performance one saw and heard took place in a parallel universe. I thought the production drab, devoid of insight, sometimes perversely so. As for Terfel, I don't know how alternation between whispering and shouting - often barely singing - could justly be considered magnificent. Albrecht seemed incapable of maintaining any sort of line, either dragging out the music interminably or rushing it in a parody of bad Solti. With the exception of Anja Kampe's contribution, I think I should preface almost everything the 'Telegraph' critic writes with a 'not'. It is a long time since I have had so dispiriting an evening at Covent Garden. For what it is worth, my review is here: http://boulezian.blogspot.com/2009/02/der-fliegende-hollander-royal-opera-23.html. Or, with pictures, here: http://www.musicweb-international.com/sandh/2009/Jan-Jun09/dutchman2302.htm.

Doundou Tchil said...

When Terfel's involved, nothing less than hagiography is in order, which is a pity, as he deserves more respect. This production really did not do him justice. What the point of this production was, other than to act as a vehicle for Terfel's fans, isn't clear. Little thought seems to have been given to what the opera means and how staging could advance the ideas in the opera. Indeed, it seemed more concerned with Senta, as if the Dutchman were merely her imagination. Overall it looked cheap. Since so much money was involved this production was a tragic lost opportunity. Don't rely on the mainstream press, think independently.

Royal Opera House said...

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