The Flying Welshman

BrynAdrianneThe Royal Opera House production of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer finally made it to Toronto yesterday with a showing of the film at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.  There areva couple of Toronto connections.  The production was created by Tim Albery, although Daniel Dooner directs this revival, and the Senta is sung by Adrianne Pieczonka who was present with her family and introduced the film.  The Dutchman, of course, is played by hulking Welshman Bryn Terfel who wasn’t there.  He was probably crying into his beer somewhere at Wales coming up short in the Six Nations. Albery’s production is fairly straightforward and rather dark.  It’s got a 50s/60s vibe.  The spinning shed is some sort of garment factory with rows of sewing machines for example. It’s pretty sparse with a lot of the action just taking place on a severely raked deck.  There are some interesting touches such as senta being obsessed with a model of the Dutchman’s ship rather than a portrait and a pretty threatening version of the scene where Senta meets the ghostly crew.  The ending is completely unresolved.  The Dutchman releases Senta from her vow and disappears up a gangway which is raised with Senta hanging on long enough to make it a rather scary looking drop to the stage.  Senta then walks up stage with the model and collapses.  Dead?  Redeemed?  Who knows. Actually the main effect of Albery’s rather straightforward approach is to draw attention to the basic problems of the plot; from Daland basically selling his daughter to a very dodgy stranger, to her accepting it as her “womanly duty” to redeem him, to the Dutchman believing that Senta is unfaithful on the basis of precisely no evidence.  It really does make one long for a little directorial obfuscation. All that said, the performances are very good.  We were told that Peter Rose, singing Daland, had a bad cold but it wasn’t apparent.  Bryn was a convincing, hulking and strongly sung Dutchman.  Adrianne sang most beautifully and was about as convincing as a Senta can be.  Andris Nelsons’ conducting was full blooded and exciting. Ross MacGibbon’s video direction was also pretty good.  There were closeups, of course, but there was enough information about the broader context to come close to the “in house” experience.  Somehow the ROH seems to have found the formula here better than the MetHD series.  I think they just aren’t as desperate to present the cinema broadcasts as a new and different experience.  The video direction is better and the intros and interviews aren’t as cloying and crass.  It helps that the Bloor is more comfortable and has much better sound than the Scotiabank.  It’s also cheaper and has better beer.

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4 thoughts on “The Flying Welshman

  1. I was there too, and I like your review and agree with you on much of it, including the part about ROH doing a better job than the Met. And wasn’t it cool that Adrianne Pieczonka introduced it? Bravos all round for Bloor Cinema… 🙂

  2. Cinemas can’t serve beer here in NYC–could have used a couple for the MetHD’s I’ve seen and the ROH Manon Lescaut. Are you getting the ENO Traviata by Kowitschny? Verdi in English (yeech!), but it should be interesting.

    • Unfortunately the ENO broadcasts are not being shown in Toronto. Quite a few cinemas here serve beer but few have the excellent range of local craft beers that the Bloor offeres.

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