Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman)

First premiering in 1843, Wagner’s opera Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) was highly successful from the start. Tim Albery’s production had all but sold out at the Royal Opera House when I managed to bag a return slips ticket for £9.

This was my first experience of a Wagner opera, and I was attracted by the story. The legend of the Flying Dutchman is a well-known one: a variant even appears in the popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. The character has been cursed for eternity, and is only allowed ashore once in every seven years. On one such occasion, he meets Senta, who offers hope of redemption, but his jealousy and concern for her may end their relationship before it has begun.

Bryn Terfel excelled in the title role, lending depth and sadness to his character. I was also very impressed by Adrianne Pieczonka as Senta. I enjoyed the music and the ensemble performances, which were first-class, as I’ve come to expect from the Royal Opera House. Michael Levine’s set was a simple but effective curved hull, representing the ship as well as the loneliness of the two central characters. For a production that was two and a half hours without an interval, however, I do wish there had been rather less water on stage! Having said that, the time flew by and I enjoyed this dramatic and atmospheric production.

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