Review: A Taut ‘Der Fliegende Holländer’ Helmed By Nézet-Séguin
By Jose Andrade, Contributing Writer, May 3, 2017
The Metropolitan Opera’s season premiere of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer on Tuesday, April 25 was full of electricity, amply generated by incoming Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and a cast that included Amber Wagner, Dolora Zajick, Michael Volle, Franz-Josef Selig, AJ Gluekert and Ben Bliss.
Nézet-Séguin’s conducting of the overture (and subsequent performance) was animated with lively tempi and made great use of dynamics, including a very memorable diminishing of the last notes in the first section of the overture. A doleful rendition of Senta’s Ballad theme contrasted nicely with his fast-paced performance, one which he would exploit even more effectively during the actual aria in Act Two. Favoring a light handling of the orchestra, his quick tempi gave the impression of a chamber opera, instead of a titanic grand opera.
As the curtain rose, August Everding’s almost 30 year old production came to life with strong choral work. Bass Franz-Josef Selig seemed initially uncomfortable with his opening rhythms, but quickly adapted himself to the fast-paced environment and excelled in moments when the tempo was less-driven. Tenor Benn Bliss sang his Steuerman’s song with sweet delight.
Baritone Michael Volle’s Dutchman made good use of unaccompanied phrases to build tension between him and the orchestra in his opening aria “Die Frist ist um.” His “Dich frage ich” was like a whisper, while having sufficient heft for the larger moments in the performance. Favoring a subdued portrayal of the Dutchman throughout Acts One and Two, he came to life in Act Three, giving into the tortured nature of a damned man and providing, by far, his most effective singing of the evening.
Soprano Amber Wagner was near perfect as Senta, a Wagnerian voice with a distinct color, a little unwieldy at times, but certainly a memorable performance. Similar to the overture, the pace of the Ballad was slow, allowing Miss Wagner’s ample voice to bloom and fill the house.
Tenor Aj Glueckert, making his Metropolitan Opera debut, was a most comfortable Erik, neither heavy or light, his portrayal possessed a honeyed earnestness that worked well with Ms. Wagner’s inquisitive Senta. In a case of luxury casting, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick was excellent as Mary, lyrically light with just enough bite hinting at Mary’s pettiness.
Der Fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera House through May 12, 2017. By Richard Wagner. Conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Production by August Everding; scenic design by Hans Schavernoch; costume design by Lore Haas; lighting design by Gil Wechsler; revival stage direction by Stephen Pickover. With Amber Wagner, Dolora Zajick, Michael Volle, Franz-Josef Selig, AJ Gluekert (debut) and Ben Bliss.
Cover: Michael Volle and Amber Wagner in ‘Der Fliegende Holländer;’ photo: Richard Termine/Metropolitan Opera.