Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Florentine Opera, “The Flying Dutchman”

On Friday night, October 24th, we heard a very fine performance of Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” (“Der Fliegender Hollander”) by the Florentine Opera.

I say “heard” rather than “saw” since there wasn’t much to see, and what there was to look at was dull and confusing.

Taking the good parts first, all the principal singers were excellent. Peter Volpe as Daland, Wayne Tigges as The Dutchman, and Alwyn Mellor as Senta all sang with great power and beauty. They were very well supported by David Danholt as Erik, Aaron Short and Jenni Bank as the Steersman and Mary, and the Florentine Opera Chorus. The orchestra, led by Maestro Joseph Rescigno, was flawless to my ear.

Would that the visual elements had been as good. The set design, by Noele Stollmack, was dominated by two elements. The first was a gray wooden framework that resembled the inside of a barn much more than either a ship or a seaside town. The second was a huge video screen which distracted from the performance more than it enhanced it. The screen was frequently so bright it was hard to look at, even from the loge where we were.

The stage direction, by the well-regarded Paula Suozzi, was dull where not confusing. One of the best moments at the climax, when Senta becomes a silhouette against the screen, portraying her plunge into the ocean, was immediately dissipated by having the chorus members pair up and casually amble off stage as though nothing of consequence had happened.

Costumes, by Leslie Vaglica, were mostly period-appropriate for vaguely 19th Century Europe, but those given the two female principals did not match the female chorus, who had brightly colored “trachten” outfit with pinafore aprons and “character” shoes. By contrast, Ms. Mellor’s costume was an unadorned homely black dress with dark stockings and high-button boots. As “Mistress Mary,” Ms. Bank was given a jacket and highly unlikely tight breeches which made me wonder where she had left her riding crop.

Oh, well. There’s nothing like live music in performance and we were glad we attended—we just could have been more glad.

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