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Lyric Opera's The Flying Dutchman
By Catherine Hellmann, Guest Critic
Two and a half hours for an opera by Richard Wagner? One act? I’m out the door by 10:00? Sign me up! (I already have my Ring Cycle Merit badge, thank you very much.)
Tamara Wilson as Senta and Tomasz Konieczny as The Dutchman.
All Photos: Todd Rosenberg
“The Flying Dutchman,” sung in German with English subtitles, as conducted by the charismatic Music Director Enrique Mazzola, is a delight. Based on an old myth about a ghost ship that must sail the seven seas forever, the doomed captain made a deal with the devil (hello, Faust?) during a storm. Now he must find true love to lift the burden of this curse. Every seven years, he is able to reappear and try to convince a woman to love him and break the spell. (My date commented, ”He’s in search of True Love.” I replied, “He has to find a sucker to stop the spell.” Hmmm…maybe I need to check my cynicism.)
The overture was suspenseful and set the stage for events to come. There is drama on the high seas where there is no promise of return. The Dutchman may be lost forever, and his dismal crew (lit underneath the stage in red lights) will be adrift for eternity.
Tomasz Konieczny as The Dutchman.
The set by Allen Moyer, who also designed the costumes, is on a disorienting tilt to portray the rocking waves of the water. The singers do a great job of lilting to the sides to simulate the turbulence of the sea. The opera chorus is always fabulous. The men portray the sailors and crew of the ghost trip while the women’s chorus represent the weavers working spinning wheels and the monotony of textile factories.
Tomasz Konieczny as the Dutchman was powerful and mesmerizing. (Although the “Kool Ghoul” makeup was spooky but odd.) Local hometown star Tamara Wilson was incredible as Senta, the woman who yearns to save the doomed Dutchman (“sucka,” I’m thinking…Don’t do it, Senta!!). Not every opera singer is also a convincing actor, but they both were wonderful. I wasn’t wowed by the costumes, and Ms. Wilson was clearly visible but should ask the wardrobe crew about the Bozo wig.
By the end of the show, I glanced at my watch and was amazed two hours had passed. That’s a very positive sign for a lengthy opera. The music is glorious.
Wonderful start to the new Lyric Season.
Catherine Hellmann spends her life at school, the theater, and out walking in the city.