Late 16th century, persecuted protestantism and general dissatisfaction with the Catholic Habsburg rule in the Netherlands lead to large-scale plundering and vandalizing of churches, only ... See full summary »
René van 't Hof
Terrific, even if hearing it in English feels strange
Die Fliegende Hollander is a fine opera. While it is not my favourite of Wagner's operas(between Tristan Und Isolde and Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg), it is easy to see why it was his first success. It has a fine story, very interesting characters(especially Dutchman) and some really phenomenal music(the standouts being one of Wagner's best Overtures, Die Frist Ist Um, the Spinning Chorus and Mogst Du Mein Kind). I found this performance from 1975 terrific. The fact that it is in English will be a shock to a lot of people, I am one of those who does much prefer Wagner in German(I imagine Wagner would feel the same if he was anything like Bach who insisted on having his work performed in his native tongue or something like that) but didn't mind it being in English. It is absolutely impeccable musically, the orchestral playing is genuinely stirring, the chorus sing with character and David Lloyd-Jones' conducting keeps the pace flowing smoothly without lessening the dramatic intensity of the orchestration. He is helped by the performances of the three leads. Norman Bailey is truly impressive as the Dutchman, he has a very noble and rich-sounding voice that he phrases and shades beautifully, and he does a fine commanding job of bringing out the many sides of Dutchman's tormented character. Gwyneth Jones was at a stage where her top had a tendency to be wobbly and strained, but there were many times where she sounded absolutely radiant(more so I feel than the 1971 Bohm-conducted live performance) and she proves herself as Senta to be an intelligent actress. Stafford Dean sings resonantly, and his Daland has the ambivalence he should have. All in all, hearing Die Fliegende Hollander in English is going to initially sound unusual but it is so well performed here that it doesn't feel too much of a problem. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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