Tuesday 8 May 2012

The Flying Dutchman at the London Coliseum

On Saturday 5th May 2012 I was back in London at the London Coliseum to attend the English National Opera's performance of Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. This Opera was performed in english with translation by David Pountney. This production was directed by Jonathan Kent.

Edward Gardner was conductor as the Orchestra put on an outstanding performance which complimented the events on stage with Orla Boylan as Senta, Stuart Skelton as Erik, Clive Bayley as Daland and James Creswell as The Dutchman taking us to the world of Richard Wagner.

The Flying Dutchman provides an early outing for Wagner's idea of redemption through death: so called 'love-deaths' occur in several of his operas, and the Dutchman delivers a particularly vivid one in a legendary story which is salt-washed by dramatic sea-storms and fearful apparitions.

The opera begins with Daland's ship riding out a tempest which suddenly disgorges the ghostly ship of the Dutchman, a sea-captain cursed to roam the seas for ever, but allowed to come ashore every seven years – his sin of blasphemy will be wiped clean if he can find a wife who will be true to him. The stranger offers Daland gold for the hand of his unmarried daughter Senta, sight unseen. Senta knows the legend of the Dutchman and is determined to save him. When she meets the stranger, the connection is made, and she swears eternal fidelity. Daland's crew and the villagers try in vain to tempt the stranger's crew ashore: when these ghostly figures finally appear, everyone flees in fear.

Senta's discarded boyfriend Erik recalls their love and wants to rekindle it. Overhearing this, the stranger concludes that he has been betrayed again and once again is doomed. To general consternation, he reveals his identity as the Flying Dutchman and sets sail. Proclaiming herself faithful unto death, Senta throws herself into the sea – redeemed, they are seen ascending to heaven.

As you would expect from the English National Opera we were treated to a dramatic evening with a brilliant staging of Wagner's opera which is set on the Norwegian coast. With dreams, nightmares and ship in a bottle factories set against the raging sea we were taken on a rollercoaster ride with our emotions as the opera was performed without an interval to give us the full effects of this sometimes dark epic.

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