Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Flying Dutchman

The New Zealand Opera season of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman opened in Wellington last night. On Thursday night, I was at the final dress rehearsal. Wow, what an evening!

Originally set in 1843, The Flying Dutchman is given some pretty bold treatment. Wagner is the bad boy of opera; dark, brooding and dangerously mysterious. Sung in German with English surtitles, the phrasing is long and drawn out and the drama laid on thick. Why set the libretto into succinct phrases when several more will really hammer the point home? The theatre design is quite spectacular and the performance is edgy, even risqué. I've never been mooned by the cast at an opera before which goes to show that there is a first time for everything!

Irish soprano Orla Boylan excelled as Senta - now there's a voice to bring down an opera house. Her presence well and truly filled the stage. New Zealand born bass baritone Paul Whelan was resting his voice for opening night after recovering from a recent illness so unfortunately I missed hearing him at full capacity. Peter Auty put in a very heartfelt performance as the heartbroken Erik.

The orchestration was simply superb. New Zealand Opera's first partnership with New Zealand Symphony Orchestra since 2002 brings the show to a whole new level. The orchestra is first class and their performance was faultless. Here's hoping for more NZO/NZSO partnerships in the future.

The Flying Dutchman has three more performances in Wellington and moves to Auckland from 5 October. If the final dress rehearsal is anything to go by, the show is absolutely fantastic. Do see it!

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