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Richard Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer, WWV 63
Samuel Youn (The Dutchman), Ingela Brimberg (Senta), Lars Woldt (Donald [Daland]), Bernard Richter (Georg [Erik]), Ann-Beth Solvang (Mary), Pavel Strasil (Satan), Manuel Günther (The helmsman), Arnold Schoenberg Choir, Erwin Ortner, Ottokar Prochazka, Jordi Casals (chorus masters), Les Musiciens du Louvre, Marc Minkowski (conductor), Olivier Py (stage director), Pierre-André Weitz (set designer), Bertrand Killy (lighting designer), François Roussillon (video director)
A co-production by the Theater an der Wien, François Roussillon et Associés and Sonostream.tv with participation of TF1, Theater an der Wien, Austria (November 22 and 24, 2015) – 136’
Naxos 2110637 (or Blu-ray NBD0099V) – PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 – NTSC 16:9 – Region 0 – Booklet in English and German – Subtitles in German, English, French, Japanese and Korean

Filled with profundity, this production tackles the romantic opera on a slightly different level. Widely credited as having its premiere at Dresden’s Königliches Hoftheater in 1843, Der fliegende Holländer’s compelling story actually began in 1841 [even as early as 1840] as an original draft destined for the Paris Opéra, though the staged production never materialized. Grasse-born actor/director/writer, Olivier Py grasps the ghostly mariner with provocation: as in many French films, Wagner’s version ends in a non résolue. Contrasting to the later three-act version of ‘redemption through love’ with firm gelation, the Parisian manuscript never answers the dilemma. Summarily, Py inscribes two words, Erlösung (Redemption) and Erwartung (Expectation) to bracket Wagner’s thought-dominion.

In the insightful Q & A booklet, M. Py argues Richard Wagner as being ‘international’, more so than a nationalist. Similarly, Olivier Py adheres to the former by straddling the line of investment to include contributions from France, Austria and even outside European boundaries. M. Py’s, Holländer passages Wagner with male and female sensitivities, paralleling that of his life upon the exodus from Riga. So much of what dwells inside Richard Wagner ends up on stage. The action is framed within Pierre-André Weitz’s stark and moodily black and ashen circular set with proven suspense around every moveable panel...it never ceases. Samuel Youn’s Dutchman is unwavering, giving strength and determination. Hands down, the greatest delivery comes from Ingela Brimberg as she journeys through her phases of infatuation, fear and ecstasy, yet the tension ignites further when Bernard Richter (Georg [Erik]) attempts to digest Senta’s capricious behavior, ultimately turning him into a raging lunatic. As an added theatrical heft, M. Py adds well-chiseled Pavel Strasil to provide the silent demonic narrative. Py, known for his homoeroticism, deftly handles the pursuit of sensuality in the opening of Act III, bringing back clear resonances of San Francisco Opera’s Mefistofele.

Frequently teamed up with Olivier Py, Bertrand Killy’s lighting is highly hypnotic and intoxicating…the effect is tripled. We feel claustrophobia...we anticipate fear…we dwell upon the unknown...where does this journey finally go? Was it a dream? Or was it an illusion? An expectation?

The audience decides...and that’s why Olivier Py is to be commended by his brilliance in format and staging for this Der fliegende Holländer.

Christie Grimstad




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