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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable
This recording gives us the famous (and, at the time, controversial) 1980s production of the 'Dutchman' from Bayreuth by Harry Kupfer, and it is unmissable.
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...
Published on 9 Aug 2005

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great singing, but confusing production
I find the Kupfer "re-imagining" of the plot rather confusing. I had never seen the opera before and this was a poor introduction in terms of getting the story. Having said that, the singing and orchestral playing is excellent and musically I found this highly enjoyable. The actual stage effects and scene changes are also very impressive.
Published on 14 May 2007 by maximus


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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable, 9 Aug 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
This recording gives us the famous (and, at the time, controversial) 1980s production of the 'Dutchman' from Bayreuth by Harry Kupfer, and it is unmissable.
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. Here, the Dutchman seems to exist only in the context of Senta's fantasies of escape, but within this context Estes portrays the character as someone to be both pitied and dreaded. Senta herself is never offstage - much of the action, after all, is happening only in her mind - and from beginning to end, Balslev makes her a powerful and magnetic character, beautifully acted and subtly sung.
All of these tremendous performances are enhanced by excellent sound, picture quality, and camerawork.
But finally, is it Wagner? When this production was first staged, many complained that it failed to address elements of Wagner's music and libretto. In reply to that, I would now say that Kupfer has selected the most purely dramatic and tragic elements, and developed them to an astonishing level and depth of expression. He has taken Wagner's most naïve 'mature' opera - part romantic melodrama, part ghost story - and turned it into a tragedy that sets the mind reeling. Whether it's Wagner or Kupfer that is the end result, this is a production that every opera fan should see.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great singing, but confusing production, 14 May 2007
By 
maximus (manchester, uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
I find the Kupfer "re-imagining" of the plot rather confusing. I had never seen the opera before and this was a poor introduction in terms of getting the story. Having said that, the singing and orchestral playing is excellent and musically I found this highly enjoyable. The actual stage effects and scene changes are also very impressive.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT, 7 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
There has never been a more powerfull Dutchman,then Simon Estes.Listening to him on this DVD gives me goosebumps,every time I hear it.I have the recording on vhs also.If you like powerfull,beautiful bass bartones,then this recording is a must in your collection.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 9 Jun 2010
This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
One of the most gripping and spectacular opera productions you're ever likely to see. Very well played and sung though it's the overall conception which enthralls. A must for any serious opera lover.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very powerful Dutchman, 30 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
I have not heard any other perfomances of this, except the one with Hildegarde Behrens on youtube. But I felt thiis must surely be as good as any. Simon Estes brilliant powerful singing and acting, i feel it could not have been done better. This with the peerless Matti Salminen as Daland, and Lisbeth Balslev brillian singing and intense portrayal. Subsidiary roles, the little seaman at the beginning and the lover Erik very good indeed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Der Fliegende Hollander, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
I found that I much preferred Ligendza's interpretaion of Senta in respect of both interpretaion and singing to that of Balslev in this recording. This is a good recording but I find I prefer the Sawalisch version overall. Although Estes sang the role of the Dutchman very well, I preferred McIntyre's interpretaion. This is much a matter of personal taste.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Original Version, 14 Oct 2013
By 
J. W. F. Russell (Berkshire, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
What seems to have been missed by the other reviewers is that this recording is of the original 1841 version that Wagner produced for performance in Paris - which was rejected there. It was not performed in Wagner's lifetime and is rarely performed these days (although I believe there was a production in Boston in April 2013).

The main difference is the dark ending with Senta committing suicide without joining the Dutchman and achieving the usual mutual redemption. Key also is the symbolic rejection of the Flying Dutchman by the villagers as they slam their window shutters against him at the very end. This was my reason for adding this particular DVD to my collection and I was not disappointed.

I would have given this DVD five stars if subtitles in English had been included, so it might not appeal to those in the UK who are choosing their "first" Dutchman. Having said that, there is an excellent synopsis provided in English (and French) that describes each sub-scene of the opera. The strength and quality of the leading voices is superb and, unsurprisingly, the excellent DGM sound reproduction puts many modern recordings to shame.

Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [198..., 15 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
This Bayreuth production is very good though it is plays with no act breaks I found this good,
the singing was excellent I enjoyed this a lot.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning production, ringing true in every respect, 3 May 2012
By 
Glilla Bear (Isle of Wight, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
This Bayreuth 1985 production, artistically overseen by the fiercely traditionalistic Wolfgang Wagner (the composer's grandson)is a magnificent achievement. The singing from every one of the principal cast is superlative, singling out Matti Salminen for special praise since other reviewers seem to have overlooked him. The orchestral playing is exceptional, though some of the tempi perhaps a little brisk (at least to this Klemperer-prone ear!)The idea of the prow-planks of the Dutchman's ship doubling as an opening pair of hands from which the Dutchman emerges is quite splendid; indeed the whole production is opulent as well as being imaginative. I have no doubt that this is a must-have 'Dutchman' , though it is a pity that Segerstam's has recently disappeared from the catalogue.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Smartypants, 30 Mar 2010
By 
D. M. Purkiss "Diane" (Oxford, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Der Fliegende Holländer - (The Flying Dutchman) Wagner [DVD] [1985] [NTSC] [2005] (DVD)
In this version the main Biiiig Idea is that everything takes place in Senta's mad imagination. There is no Dutchman, only a fantasy. Senta, powerless in a weak Ibsenesque way, is unable to tolerate the smug bourgeois world she inhabits, and has escaped into la-la land. On stage the whole time just to make sure we don't conclude that the Dutchman has corporeal form, she eventually throws herself off a balcony. No-one is redeemed, least of all her.

Reviewers laaaahved this, dahlings. Perhaps Kupfer thought he was 'updating' Wagner. Excuse me? Retrograding it, more likely.

In Wagner, which this isn't despite the splendid singing from people who seem not to know they are trapped in an awful production, Senta is the only one in control, the only one with any power, the only one who can change things, think outside the box, redeem. When she ticks off the Spinning Chorus for its banality, this is NOT Ibsenesque irritibility; it's because she GENUINELY sees beyond the drawing room. She's truly great. They are numpties. And she does just what she says she will. She does redeem. It's just that redemption has a price. Her life. here she dies just the same, but wihtout achieving ANYTHING. Just explain to me again why that's better or more modern. But Kupfer, who has the International Playbook of Poltical Correctness in his sweaty hand, and is running it, can't himself see beyond a choice betwene madness and boredom.

The slavering which greeted this weary old insight (It's all in yer mind, innit - well, old if you are a Shakespeare fan like me) paved the way for such events as the Copenhagen Ring, in which Alberic's arm is cut off by Wotan, and the Barcelona Parsifal, in which I gather the Grail knights off Titurel and Parsifal himself spears Amfortas instead of healing him.

Doubtless Katharina or Eva Wagner will soon be treating us to a Lohengrin wearing SS uniform or driving to Brabant in a Panzer to show their renunciation of Nazism (and of course its power to sex up old culture, BUT LET'S NOT GO THERE).

I think lots of the current directors are seriously scared of Wagner's very strong women. They seem determined to reduce them to size, humiliate them. (Bayreuth controllers, I'm looking at you. You're not cool and trendy. You are old, old schlock and if you want to do a modern opera, why don't you present one? I like Judith Weil, myself.)

But of course that wouldn't bring in the money. As it is, this Wagner industry is utterly and contemptuously parasitic on people who long for Wagner without the amputations and accompanying slaps across the face. We fund them and they punish us for it.).

3 stars for the singing, though Hans Hotter is a better Dutchman on the old recording with Varnay, and Silja a far better Senta, whatever the idjits at the Penguin guide think.
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