Our new opera reviewer, Michael Saffle, had a few technical bones to pick with Opera Roanoke’s production of Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” but enjoyed it over all, though he also notes that apparently the company’s recent string of sellouts has been broken.
Did you go? What did you think?
A breathtaking ride with ‘Flying Dutchman’
By Michael Saffle
Friday evening a surprisingly small Jefferson Center audience heaped applause on Opera Roanoke’s remarkably skillful performance of “The Flying Dutchman.”
Richard Wagner began writing his “Dutchman” in 1840 while he was living in Paris. Although he later criticized fellow composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, it was Meyerbeer who encouraged Wagner to finish the show. The completed “Dutchman” was first presented two years later in Berlin.
Wagner never lacked for enemies. German critics initially disliked the “Dutchman” for its gloomy, folk-like plot (colorful historical dramas were all the rage) and challenging harmonies. In fact, Wagner’s music sounds a lot like Meyerbeer’s, with plenty of stirring parts for low brass and woodwinds.
Everything Wagner composed for the stage, including his “Dutchman,” is long. Nevertheless, it’s shorter than any of his other music dramas, and it features a half-dozen good tunes: the kind fans hum on their way home from the theater.
The Roanoke production stars Ryan Kinsella as the cursed Dutchman, condemned by the devil to sail forever around the world unless he can find a girl true to the bitter end. Julia Rolwing plays Senta, the very girl he’s been seeking. Matthew Curran plays Daland, Senta’s money-grasping father, who pushes his daughter and the Dutchman together for a sack full of jewels.