Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wagner - The Flying Dutchman / Backman Behrens Grundheber Savonlinna Opera Festival|
Der Fliegende Hollander
Actors: Hildegard Behrens, Franz Grundheber, Matti Salminen
Director: Ilkka Bckman
Genres: Indie & Art House, Musicals & Performing Arts
Ilkka Bäckman's acclaimed production of Wagner's classic opera takes place outdoors in the huge courtyard of Finland's 500-year-old Olavinlinna Castle - a majestic and impressive setting, which gives the production an atmo... more »
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A musically thrilling Dutchman - finally on DVD
MDFinMIA | N. Miami, FL USA | 07/18/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"On musical terms alone, this 1989 production from Savonlinna is worth acquiring - it's the first available on DVD. Grundheber, Salminen and Behrens are in excellent form (Salminen especially), with excellent work as well by the unknown Raimo Sirkia as Erik. Despite a few gaffs, the orchestra plays quite well for conductor Leif Segerstam, who manages to propel things forward with a great sense of drama and keep a widely dispersed cast together. Soundstage is actually quite interesting, given that the performance is inside the courtyard of a castle, but stage noise does intrude now and then (how DARE the stage director get by with having Mary continue to spin while Senta sings her aria!). Picture and videography are less than state-of-the-art. Why can't we just enjoy what's happening on stage, rather than having all these fades to stock shots of ships, water, faces, etc. And not to be able to enjoy the curtain calls! Unforgivable.Still, on musical terms alone, an enjoyable and moving production of Wagner's early work."
Vocally enthralling, visually atmospheric Dutchman
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 12/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wagner's Der Flieglande Hollander is probably his single most effective piece of theater. It's relatively short, and the opera moves along at an astonishingly fast clip. At this stage Wagner was not fond of sprinkling his works with long, "profound" monologues (think of Wotan's 40 minute narration in Act 2 of Die Walkure).
This performance took place at an ancient Finnish castle, and the directors obviously love the atmospheric setting as there are many shots of the outside waters and the craggly staircases of the castle. I rather like this -- for a film, it's a wonderful setting. The performance is live though, with a clapping audience, so there's no "lip-synching" that ruins so many operatic films.
Vocally this Dutchman is hard to beat. Franz Grundeheber is a genuine Wagnerian bass baritone, with an extremely dark vibrant tone. The closeups do not flatter him visually -- he's a "side" singer, and he sweats so much during the performance that his eyeshadow and mascara smear all over his face. Strangely the Dutchman is costumed in medieval armor, which doesn't really make sense. I mean, he's a sea captain. He's not Lohengrin. But this is a world-class Dutchman, and his thrilling Narrative is one of the video's highlights. If I have *one* quibble with Grundeheber it's that for a doomed sea captain he seems way too robust and vigorous. He doesn't really have that haunted, desperate quality that perhaps would make his portrayal richer.
Hildegard Behrens as Senta is also caught in her all-too-brief prime. She's lovely to look at, and a sensitive nuanced actress. Her voice already sounds a bit shrill under pressure, but it's not yet intrusive. Matti Salminen is also a vocally wonderful if stolid Daland.
The orchestral playing is disappointing. Brass is way overplayed and shrill. More distracting are the video "enhancements" like closeups of singers superimposed over shots of the ocean waves, often in the MIDDLE of a scene!!! Still, the performance is vocally so valuable these are mere annoyances in one of the best examples of Wagner on video."
Turn Off The TV
Michael Miano | Middleport, NY USA | 06/15/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"What is the point of buying a DVD if you can't enjoy what you SEE as well as hear? I liked what I heard well enough, but visually, the production is stupid. The costuming is simply awful! Senta, for example, wears a silk and velvet dress (for spinning?!?) As has been mentioned in other reviews, the constant scenes of a pen and ink drawing of the Dutchman's ship superimposed over waves every time nobody is singing are more than annoying. The scenes of the (Finland's Olavinlinna)castle grounds at other points during the opera obviously have nothing to do with the story. The camera work is especially awful. Extreme close-ups of chorus members are pointless and the close-ups of main cast members are a mistake because of the heavy make-up they wear. Why the director decided to give the Steersman a fancy blanket for his nap is a mystery. Moreover, the Steersman's pawing over the treasure is a new story not invented by Wagner. If you want to film an opera in an outdoor setting, this is an example of how NOT to do it. We see the Dutchman's crew - they wear spandex outfits with nets over their faces - apparently the newest thing in attire for the dead. But, we see them entirely only when the carry the treasure chest for Daland to inspect. The rest of the time, we see only their arms waving through holes in their ship. What a strange thing for ghosts to do! The only thing worse that could happen to Wagner than Finland is Kupfer."
A superb cast brings this "Dutchman" to llife!
D. J. Edwards | Cheshire, CT United States | 03/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best sung "Flying Dutchman" available in any format. Every CD set has a serious flaw with at least one singer in the cast and that usually being a squally Senta. The Dorati set on London has a wonderful cast but nothing comes to life. On Myto the same Senta and Dutchman are superb but the sound is poor. Some Reviewers have criticized this Savonlinna production and some rather scathingly but we are in debt to Kultur for making this production available. Behrens, Salminen and Grundheber produce beautiful sound, unstrained power and great interpretation. The Naxos recording is quite good maybe a little overrated but well sung. Gramophone refers to a Sawallisch recording on EMI but I haven't heard or seen that recording. I don't expect to
hear a better sung "Dutchman", certainly in the near future. This belongs in
your collection for its beautiful, exciting and equally inspired singing as well as for the superb playing of the orchestra conducted by the inspired Leif Segerstam. When Behrens was in good voice, she was, as here, thrilling."