Friday, September 20, 2013

Flying Dutchman in New Zealand

St James Theatre, Wellington
Producing The Flying Dutchman is quite an undertaking for a recently formed opera company but Wagner's 200th birthday has inspired the New Zealand Opera to do just that. On Wednesday when I saw the show the St James Theatre in Wellington was packed. Orla Boylan (Senta) and Peter Auty (Erik) delivered their demanding roles with aplomb and Shaun Dixon, originally from tiny Tokoroa,was a charming bright voiced Steersman. During the first half, produced in a minimalist but clever setting which augmented the voices, the evening looked as if it would be a winner.

But then came the chorus scenes and suddenly we were no longer with a group of Norwegian sailors but at a 1950s drunken Antipodean student party with students vomiting and fighting and more beer and chips thrown around the stage than you'd find at the most drunken brawl. The Director was Matthew Lutton from Australia. His credits list a couple of directing roles in Germany and perhaps he took his regie-theatre ideas from there. How pleased I shall be when an opera director is required to know and understand the music and it's cultural setting. Singers and conductors are required to have this knowledge … why not directors?

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