Here?s a filmed Dutchman soaked in the sea from which the doomed figure of legend emerges into an atmospheric production enhanced by a powerful rendition of the title role and effective conducting by Wolfgang Sawallisch, a... more »n experienced Wagnerian. The story of a sinner condemned to sail the seas until Judgment Day, thirsting for a death that can only come through the redemption of a woman?s selfless love, is, in Wagner?s hands, a searing drama. The Overture is here illustrated with painted scenes that encapsulate the narrative. The opera itself offers traditional costuming and sets with a realism a stage production can?t capture. When the Dutchman emerges from his gnarled, threatening ship he tramples through the shallow water of the harbor and we hear the splashes made by his boots. His ship of doom has blood-red sails, but, less happily, his ghostly crew seems left over from a B horror flick. Václav Kaslík?s film direction captures the opera?s atmosphere well, with expressionist touches like the mists that shroud the vessel of doom, and the spider?s web of fishing nets that symbolize the way the characters are trapped in their situations. But too-busy camera work and a penchant for closeups more revealing of singers? tonsils than necessary sometimes distracts. Lip-synching, often a problem in filming operas to pre-recorded music, is reasonably well done here. The musical side of the production is successful, with a towering Dutchman in Donald McIntyre whose anguish is clear from his very first appearance and whose singing is exemplary, the voice firm, the interpretation nuanced. Daland, the greedy ship captain seduced by the Dutchman?s wealth to promise his daughter, Senta, in marriage is well done by Bengt Rundgren. Senta is a bit more problematic, as soprano Catarina Ligendza tends to be blank-faced as an actress, and with her thin, sometimes ugly high notes and scooping, some distance from the Senta of one?s dreams. Her frustrated suitor, Erik, is sung by Hermann Winkler, who brings intensity but also a burly tenor voice to the role. His aria recalling how he met and fell in love with Senta is bawled as if tenderness had no role in a love song. Harald Ek?s colorful tenor is ideal for the Steersman and Ruth Hesse is an effective Mary. The Bavarian Opera chorus and orchestra are fine and Sawallisch?s excellent conducting keeps the tension high and the narrative swift-moving. Some small cuts, common to stage productions of the period, don?t compromise a recommendation firmly based on the conducting and McIntyre?s first-rate Dutchman. --Dan Davis The Flying Dutchman is an all-regions disc in 4:3 ratio. Sound options include PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Surround. Sung in German, subtitles include English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.« less
"You can taste the salt spray and feel the waves heave beneath your feet. You can almost see Captain Jack Sparrow mincing saucily on the fo'c'sle deck. This brilliantly evocative 1975 film of Wagner's tale of the Flying Dutchman, replete with mighty square-rigged ships, storm-tossed waves, pea soup fog, ghosts of dead sailors who are reanimated and the grisly green corpses of dead sailors who are not, breathes life into Wagner's early score, making for a splendidly atmospheric musical experience. Filmed in the studio, with the singers lip-synching the score, it is blessed with wonderful period sets and costumes, its 19th Century hyperreality heightened by mighty ocean waves and their tempest-swept ships, an effect filmed in two huge water tanks. Der Fliegende Hollander lightens our burdens aboard ship as if it were a two hour long sea shanty. Wagner lends himself to full-scale film presentation (as opposed to filmed stagings). His Ring Cycle seems to be especially ideal for some future CGI film extravaganza.
Directed with visionary zeal by the Czech opera director Vaclav Kaslik, a veteran of 150 opera productions in the theatre, usually working with the great Czech scenographer Josef Svoboda, he exhuberantly tackles any of Wagner's stage directions or text that call for a special effect. Distinctive examples of visual intensity are the phantom ship with its red sails approaching the shore at speed and anchoring and the ghost crew arising from the dead in response to the taunts of the Norwegian sailors at the end of Act III. The conductor of the splendid Bayerisches Staatsorchester and Chor is Wolfgang Sawallisch, a Hollander specialist since his first performances of the work in Augsburg in the 1940s. He utilizes as his musical text Wagner's earlier thoughts on the score as it was originally performed for its premiere in Dresden, which Sawallisch has come to prefer over the years as being more effective. This version includes the so-called 'blunt' ending to the Overture and the performance of Act III without the harp-dominated Tristan-influenced redemption music, as well as louder and wilder brass commentaries throughout the entire opera. It makes for a much more visceral experience, a gutsier opera that seems to scrape against the nerves as one listens, causing one to sit-up and take notice as the supernatural tale unfolds.
Donald McIntyre is a charismatic Hollander, dressed in black leather and tall boots. He sings the part well. Senta is played by Catarina Ligendza, who appears troubled and confused, not quite grasping the attraction she feels for this strange man. Her voice is good, although it wobbles ocassionally. Daland is the very fine Bengt Rundgren. Erik is Hermann Winkler. The cast is quite good, which is especially important because so much of this film depends upon their acting as well as their vocal work. The superb orchestra is always right there to comment on the action, bringing dramatic unity to the performance. The result is an effective whole that is often quite riveting in its totality.
The digitally remastered film is crystal clear, as is the sound in PCM stereo and DTS 5.1. The disc lasts 117 minutes and is coded 0 worldwide. The usual DGG menus, catalogs and translations are here, along with a booklet.
This beautifully filmed, visually evocative performance is an especially atmospheric Fliegende Hollander. Strongly recommended.
A Powerful Production
Maurice D'Archonnoir | Istanbul | 05/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's much better than I've expected. Very dark, very atmospheric, actually some parts reminded me of carpenter's "the fog". McIntyre is very good as the doomed captain and Ligendza with her cold beauty is a marvelous Senta. The acting is of a very high quality and visually the production is certainly inspired. I find this as a great alternative to Kupfer's Bayreuth production which was also very imaginative and powerful. But actually I am very happy to possess a strongly faithful adaptation of this magnificent opera, made by a director who certainly knows how to build the harmony between visuals and the music. The audio recording is also first rate. Sawallisch is a great wagner conductor as usual, Ligendza with her huge voice delivers thrilling results especially in the famous ballad. McIntyre is an intelligent singer who manages to perform Hollander's menacing and terrifying aspects but also his melancholy and tragic fate. The orchestra is not bayreuth but still provides grandiose moments under Sawallisch's command. The chorus and the rest of the cast are also excellent. Dts sound is brilliant providing a very organic sound experience. English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese subtitles are also included. Highly recommended."
C. Lunde | 06/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is my second Flying Dutchman I've seen on DVD (the first being one from the Savolinna Opera Festival with Behrens and Backman), and I much prefer this one, for a few reasons, not the least of which is the *realism*. The Dutchman and Daland are saling on actual ships through actual water; there's as much emphasis on acting as singing, and there are some truly thrilling dramatic orchestral moments.
Vocally, Catarina Ligendza (Senta) and Donald McIntyre (The Dutchman) do wonderfully well, and the rest of the cast is also good to great--no one here is graded a C or lower. In response to the review that complains of the "cuts" in the opera, Sawallisch *deliberately* performed the 1843 version because it was, to him, more convincing and dramatic--and I'm inclined to agree. This is the DVD Der Fliegende Hollander of choice, since it is dramatically, musically, and visually exciting.
Very highly recommended."
Dedicated To New York's Bravest And Finest, 9/11/08
NYYanksFan | Long Island, NY | 09/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a wonderful DVD, one which has already been reviewed (and superbly so) by Mike Birman. This review is of another performance of "The Flying Dutchman", one which I remembered and thought about this morning while walking to work in lower Manhattan.
New York City Opera's fall season in 2001 was scheduled to open with a new production of "The Flying Dutchman", a rare excursion into Wagnerian repertory for that company. The premiere (as well as the entire opening week) was cancelled, due, of course, to the horrifying events of September 11th; that cancelled performance was rescheduled in late October as a 9/11 benefit. The opening ceremony that evening was very moving, with the entire cast (in full makeup) and backstage crew gathered on stage, underneath a large American flag which hung overhead. After a speech or two, it was announced that the flag hanging above the stage had covered the coffin of a member of the opera company's crew, who died on 9/11 while performing his duties as a member of the New York City Fire Department. The deceased firefighter's son, who also worked backstage at City Opera, was present onstage. Needless to say, there was not a dry eye in the house.
And then the opera began. For those not familiar with the "legend" of the Flying Dutchman, here is the Cliff Notes version: centuries ago, the Dutchman, a sea captain, while rounding southern Africa during a great storm, cried out that his ship would continue sailing, Satan be damned. Well, Satan heard him, and punished the Dutchman, his ship and crew, consigning them all to sail the seven seas for eternity, with no hope for salvation. In Wagner's version, an angel of mercy intervenes and tempers the sentence somewhat, giving the Dutchman a chance at salvation and redemption: every seven years, the Dutchman is permitted to bring his ship ashore. During his time on land, if the Dutchman can find a woman who will be faithful to him until death, his soul will be saved. Along comes Senta, who has been obsessed with the legend of the Flying Dutchman all her life; she meets and falls in love with him when he mysteriously appears, forgetting, for the moment, she is already engaged to someone else. The Dutchman becomes enraged upon learning of Senta's previous engagement, and sails off, disconsolate, for another seven years of torment. Senta, watching the ship sail away from a nearby clifftop, cries out to the Dutchman that she will remain faithful to him for all eternity, and leaps to her death into the sea. The Dutchman's ship sinks in the distance, and the curse has been broken: the Dutchman, due to Senta's devotion, sacrifice and selflessness, has finally found salvation.
While this very well mounted performance of an opera I have long loved played out before me, I began to think about how appropriate Wagner's redemptive storyline was for the occasion at hand: we were assembled that evening to honor and pay tribute to 400+ men and women, heroes all, who selflessly climbed the stairs of the Twin Towers that terrible day, all in an effort to protect and save their fellow New Yorkers. Before dying in the line of duty, these brave members of New York City's Fire Department and Police Department helped save the lives of thousands of New Yorkers on the morning of 9/11. It's very hard to believe that seven years have passed.
New Yorkers will never forget their Bravest and Finest, who selflessly gave their all to help us on 9/11/01, many of them paying the ultimate price in doing so. This is written in tribute to them.
May God bless them all -- they will never be forgotten. "
Finally, at last
Beverly A. Sahin | Minneapolis, MN | 08/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finally, at last a video of The Flying Dutchman that satisfies! Perhaps this is a difficult opera to stage, and a film is needed. This one is excellent. The violence of stormy seas, the singing of the long-dead sailors in the last act, the hopelessness of Erik's situation, the tentativeness on both sides at the lovers' first encounter--all come through gloriously. It is a thrill to see Donald McIntyre in this. I will watch this video many times."