Monday, March 23, 2015

Der fliegende Holländer - the movie

Pieczonka as Senta (ROH website)
The newest Royal Opera House Covent Garden version of  Der fliegende Holländer didn't get rave reviews in London but luckily I didn't read them before I saw the movie version in Sydney yesterday because, despite Der fliegende Holländer not being my favourite Wagner opera, I loved this production. The lead singers, Bryn Terfel, Adrianne Pieczonk, Michael Koenig and even the purportedly sick Peter Rose (Daland) sang their roles so convincingly that for once I was carried away by the story.

The only thing that rankled (not mentioned by the two UK reviews I read) was the drinking scene. The drunk sailors were not only bawdy but misogynistic (was this a comment on UK society?) After listening to the words of the sailors songs on the ship this felt particularly like a cultural mismatch. (I found a NZ version of the Dutchman last year similarly culturally unbalanced, with the sailors drunk in an antipodean way .... at least the Covent Garden sailors weren't vomiting everywhere.)

Perhaps the overwhelming misogyny of our times (two women are killed by partners or previous partners in Australia every week) has made me particularly sensitive. I couldn't help thinking as I listened to the sailor's song yesterday how wonderful men sound when they are praising women instead of belittling them.

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