Saturday, April 20, 2013

Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander – Bayerische Staatsoper (Review of the Live Webcast)

The Bayrische Staatsoper is live webcasting selected performances this season. This afternoon I saw Peter Konwitschny’s version Der Fliegende Hollander, thanks to reading Intermezzo blog's reminder in time for me to actually watch it. 

Like the Met’s weeknight audio streaming  services, however, it’s a one-shot deal. If you miss it, you miss it. Nikolaus Bachler, General Manager of the Bayrische Staatsoper comments:
I think that live streaming, as a one-off event, provides a contemporary way of opening the doors of the Opera House to the world. STAATSOPER.TV is live, like the theatre, and disappears when the curtain falls – and this is what gives it its very special appeal. The Bavarian State Opera is thus able to present itself to an even wider audience as a unique forum where innovative music theatre meets the world's best artists.
I would like to respectfully point out to Herr Bachler that he could reach an even wider audience by archiving these performances at least for a week or so. That way, potential members of his U.S. audience who have to work on Fridays would be able to see all of his webcasts. Anyway, back to the show.

Act 1: Fairly Traditional

This production is a clever update, with a typically Konwitschnian twist at the end (not that anything Konwitschny does can really be called typical.) Daland and his sailors and the townsfolk are in contemporary dress, while the Dutchman and his crew have clearly stepped out of the past.

The first act has a pretty traditional look to it. Then Act 2 opens on the women of the chorus riding spin bikes. This sounds silly, but when Mary tells them to keep spinning so they can catch husbands, it suddenly makes sense. It also makes Senta’s fixation on the Dutchman all the more strange. 

Act 2: Not so Traditional

Act 3 is more off the wall. They all seem to be partying in a warehouse that contains flammable materials. Senta decides if she is going to sacrifice herself, she’s going to take everyone with her. 

But the best part of this webcast was the singers. Anja Kampe’s first claim to fame was this Senta. She is full-voiced, bright-faced, and fully inhabits Senta’s insanity. Klaus Florian Vogt is the first Erik I’ve ever seen/heard who almost convinced me that Senta was passing up a good thing. Johan Reuter as the Dutchman was A-maz-ing. He has the creepy charm, but most of all, the voice—strong, firm, bright, and effortless—to make us think it might be more than just an obsession that makes him so attractive to Senta. 
The Dutchman just happens to have a bridal gown with him.
I was slightly annoyed that Peter Rose played Daland as kind of a bumpkin. He sang the role well, but I kept wodnering if he were a distant cousin to Baron Ochs.  But it’s nice to see Mary played by Okka von der Damerau as a young woman, instead of the repressed old crone we usually get. And I always like Norbert Ernst (is it just me, or does he always look bewildered?) as the perpetually inebriated Steersman.

If you get a chance to see this, watch it. If you get a chance to hear Frau Kampe or Herrs Reuter and Vogt sing these roles anywhere, any time, grab it. They are pretty darned awesome. Could they be a sign of the next golden age of Wagner singers? There are four more webcasts coming up this season (see below).

P.S. I have to confess I did a little tweeting during the opera. It was kind of fun to interact a bit with other viewers.  I have to share one: In Act 2, right after Daland got his foot caught in the strap of Senta’s gym bag. He stumbled a bit, looked down, kicked the strap off his foot, and never broke character, and I tweeted:  “Good save, Peter Rose! That gym bag almost sent you right into the orchestra pit.”  I love live performances.

The official trailer

Conductor Asher Fisch
Stage Direction Peter Konwitschny
Set and Costume Johannes Leiacker
Lighting Michael Bauer

Daland Peter Rose
Senta Anja Kampe
The Steersman Norbert Ernst
The Dutchman Johan Reuter

Bayerisches Staatsorchester
The Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper 

The men of the chorus chill out during Act 2.

Coming up this spring on Staatsoper.TV

May 11, 2013 (Saturday)
Giuseppe Verdi

June 1, 2013 (Saturday)
Terence Kohler

July 5, 2013 (Friday)
Giuseppe Verdi
Il trovatore

July 26, 2013 (Friday)
Modest Mussorgsky
Boris Godunov*

*Boris Godunov (directed by Bieito) is also available now on


  1. Vogt's voice was pretty strange for me at first - very lyric sound for a Heldentenor, isn't it? (Especially compared to my previous experiences, which mostly included Kaufmann's wonderful dark voice.) I'll have the chance to catch him and Dasch in Die Meistersinger sometime in June, which is not something I should miss (even if that would mean five hours of standing)!

    1. That Meistersinger sounds like a must-see. One thing I nrglected to mention is that KFV's voice seemed somewhat darker or fuller (nowhere near the JK sound) than it does in his Helden recording or his Bayreuth Lohengrin and Meistersinger DVDs.

  2. The Boris bookmarked STAT...

    1. I've flipped through and looked at bits of it. It's fairly depressing but I don't know Boris that well, and maybe that's just the opera. It also seems less bloody than Bieito's usual -- although there seems to be plenty of senseless violence. And we'd expect nothing less!


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