Richard Wagner's obsessively mythic opera, THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, was revived
recently by Los Angeles Opera in a production that originated with the
Lyric Opera of Chicago. L.A. Opera last mounted THE FLYING DUTCHMAN in
1995, with director Julie Taymor putting her own spin on the fable, one
which leaned heavily on the legend of The Wandering Jew.
This time around German director Nikolaus Lehnhoff set the opera in a
stark, ultra-modernistic setting which the audience saw through a gauzy
seascape of a scrim. The mixture of Metropolis-like expressionism (further
enhanced by Andrea Futterer's space- cadet costumes), dark, brooding lighting,
and nautical touches (the opera is set in a Norwegian fjord) was a weird
one indeed, but thanks to the power and beauty of Wagner's music--and
to some lusty, impassioned singing--THE FLYING DUTCHMAN managed to cast
a spell over me.
The love triangle at the heart of Wagner's 1843 story was brought to visceral
life by Tomas Tomasson (as the doomed, ever-roaming Dutchman), Elisbete
Matos as Senta, the young woman who risks her life in an attempt to save
him from his fate, and John
Pickle as Senta's bewildered and resentful suitor, Erik the hunter.
The other impressive singers were James Creswell (as Daland), Matthew
Plenj (as The Steersman) and Ronnita Nicole Miller (as Mary). The L.A.
Opera Chorus, under the direction of Grant Gershon, excelled itself while
portraying not just the traumatized locals
but the sailors aboard The Dutchman's ghost ship. James Conlon led the
hard-working, amply-expressive L.A. Opera Orchestra.