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The overture begins, and in the spinning-room in Daland's house, a picture falls from the wall. From that moment until the genuinely shocking ending, Daland's daughter Senta is thrown into a living nightmare. She is being suffocated by the oppressive atmosphere of village life, but as the opera progresses her dreams of escape turn into dreams of death as reality closes in around her. In this 'Dutchman', there is no redemption.
Some have remarked on Kupfer's introduction of Ibsenesque themes into the opera. For myself - with barely a passing acquaintance with Ibsen's tragedies - the atmosphere of this production lies somewhere between the small-town claustrophobia of 'Peter Grimes' and the psychological horror of Henry James's novella 'The Turn of the Screw'.
Kupfer's concept permeates every element of the production. The opera is played, as Wagner at one time intended, with no break between the acts. Woldemar Nelsson conducts the Bayreuth orchestra at a hectic pace, wringing every ounce of nervous tension from the music. The singing and acting are exceptionally good. Daland, played by Matti Salminen, is an ambivalent figure, on the one hand representing everything Senta wishes to escape from, and on the other providing her imagined means of escape when he welcomes the Dutchman ashore. Mary (Anny Schlemm) presides over the spinning-room with an intense, raven-like presence. Robert Schunk gives to the character of Erik - surely one of the most two-dimensional tenor roles in the repertoire - real depth and interest.
Most impressive of all are Simon Estes as the Dutchman and Lisbeth Balslev as Senta.Read more ›