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Thread: Der fliegende Holländer at Glimmerglass Festival

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  1. #1
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Der fliegende Holländer at Glimmerglass Festival

    Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) - 1843 - Opera in one act
    Music by Richard Wagner
    Libretto by Richard Wagner

    A new production by Francesca Zambello at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, sung in German, with English supertitles

    This review is of the performance on August 10, 2013. The run continues with performances today (August 16), August 20 matinee, and August 24. Tickets are still available for the last two performances and can be found by clicking [here]. Attendance is highly desirable (it's an excellent show).

    The Glimmerglass Festival Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by John Keenan
    Stage Director Francesca Zambello (coming soon, an exclusive Opera Lively interview with her; stay tuned for the link)
    Choreographer Eric Sean Fogel
    Sets James Noone
    Costumes Erik Teague
    Lighting Mark McCullough
    Projected text Kelley Rourke
    Hair and make-up Anne Ford-Coates
    Assistant Conductor Sean Newhouse
    Assistant Director Sara Widzer*

    Cast, in order of vocal appearance

    Daland - Peter Volpe (a former Opera Lively interviewee, read him [here])
    Steersman - Adam Bielamowicz*
    Dutchman - Ryan McKinny (coming soon, an exclusive Opera Lively interview with him; stay tuned for link)
    Mary - Deborah Nansteel*
    Senta - Melody Moore (read her current exclusive Opera Lively interview about this production [here])
    Erik - Jay Hunter Morris (a former Opera Lively interviewee - read him [here] - and Opera Lively Press author - see his compelling book [here]

    *Young Artist


    In the year of Wagner's bicentennial, Glimmerglass is presenting a visually striking, cleverly staged Dutchman with an excellent cast. While not entirely perfect (my one concern was the relatively thin orchestra with a reduced string section) there are many high marks to be enjoyed.

    First of all, dear reader, if you haven't been to Cooperstown, do know that it is a pleasure. The lake is beautiful, the town has some good restaurants, the Glimmerglass campus is sensational, the theater is comfortable and with truly excellent acoustics and sight lines (it was built especially for opera), concessions feature delicious New York State wine (Finger Lakes) and gourmet wraps with ample picnic space, the pre-opera talks are informative, and the company's hospitality and customer service are top notch. Not only The Flying Dutchman is an interesting show, but the other operatic offering, King for a Day (reviewed [here] by Opera Lively with two additional interviews) which can easily be enjoyed together with Wagner's piece since dates and times are scheduled at close proximity, is another high quality production, not to forget that the festival has other offerings, including concerts, a musical (Camelot), lectures, and a coupled art exhibit at a local museum on the subject of American romantic paintings, to go together with the Romanticism theme of this edition of the festival. Besides, if you also happen to enjoy baseball, of course the Hall of Fame is just there.

    Back to this Dutchman, Francesca Zambello's idea of one stark multi-function set featuring a ship with ropes that acquire different symbolic functions over a red backdrop where the phantom sailors hang out, is a success in all levels. Those ropes go from being the base for the forest of Senta's fantasies, to props for tempests and sea-fairing, to cages that keep the women of the village subdued, to the ultimate instrument of Senta's suicide. The silhouettes of the ghosts against the red surface are frightening and convey the necessary ominous feeling. Ms. Zambello's Gothic imagery for The Dutchman himself matches well the psychology of the romantic and suicidal girl, and make of the title character an efficient portrayal of a scary, tortured, ambivalent soul (Mr. Ryan McKinny's perfect physique du rôle was of great help). The lighting designer was able to find appropriate cold/bluish shades that contributed to the eerie atmosphere, creating an interesting contrast with the predominantly red background.

    Musically, if the orchestra was less than thrilling, vocal performances amply compensated for the thinness of the pit sound. All four principal singers were formidable in their roles, and the comprimarios were not far behind.

    Experienced Mr. Volpe was a secure Daland, and Ms. Moore had with him a very convincing daughter-father interaction, acting-wise, with some moments of realistic theater in the way she got impatient with him and tried to manipulate him with body language and interjections. Jay Hunter Morris sang his part with great beauty of tone and acted it in a rather unusually strong way - this Erik was no wimp, and felt actually threatening. When I praised his singing after the show, Jay jokingly dismissed it as an easy sing as compared to what he's been through lately (Siegfried and Ahab) - but easy or not, clearly our Jay masters this repertory quite well. Melody Moore was a passionate and fierce Senta in a rather physically active production (Ms. Zambello is a masterful director who is at ease with blocking and bold movements on stage), and she was clearly heard above the orchestra and in ensemble pieces. Adam Bielamowicz exhibited quite pleasant and powerful singing in his comprimario part.

    This brings us to the person who stole the show: young Mr. Ryan McKinny, who was extremely vocally impressive in the title role. The part is accessible to his youthful instrument without much concern for vocal damage, given that the Dutchman still features a Wagner who allows the singing to remain within lyric rather than highly dramatic parameters. Still, this is Wagner, even if early Wagner, but while caution is advisable, the young bass-baritone certainly did show potential to continue to evolve into this repertory.

    Another relative downside - but a confessedly minor one of the nitpicking kind - was the decision to interrupt the show to provide an intermission, while most Dutchman productions run continuously which enhances the total immersion. I do believe that this was inevitable, given that the community of opera lovers who frequent Glimmerglass is of a rather advanced average age, and the lack of a pause might be too taxing for them.

    In summary, I disagree with reviews that called this production "serviceable." In my opinion it was a lot better than that, and it is highly recommended, even though it doesn't reach our A+ rating exclusively due to the pit. Everything else being mostly excellent, I grant it an A- and consider it way worth the trip to Upstate New York.

    Dear readers, don't forget to check out Melodie Moore's interview mentioned above, and soon we'll also have the transcribed texts of Ms. Zambello's and Mr. McKinny's interviews. Meanwhile, let's enjoy some production pictures of this visually beautiful show, courtesy of the Glimmerglass Festival, with photo credit due to Jamie Kraus for the first two, and Karli Cadel for the others.

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    Ghosts, with the Dutchman on the right

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    Senta and the Dutchman

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    Volpe and Bielamowicz

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    Ropes at sea

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    Another use for the ropes - female conformism

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    Morris and Moore

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    The same, in a physical production

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    The excellent McKinny

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    McKinny and Moore

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    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); August 17th, 2013 at 12:27 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  2. #2
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    A bit of photojournalism with pics I took of my trip to Cooperstown:

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    The beautiful Glimmerglass campus

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    The theater, good wine at the concession stand

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    Inside the theater

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    Another external view

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    The lake

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    Bed and breakfast

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    The Baseball Hall of Fame

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    Restaurant Bucco Osteria

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    Idem, Fettuccini with Funghi Porcini, yummy

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    This dessert was just phenomenal; fried blackberry ravioli
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  3. #3
    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    Great set of photos. I grew up in upstate New York, which is idyllic in the summer. Most folks don't realize the state is primarily rural and agricultural (not necessarily by choice..). That fried blackberry ravioli does look really good!

  4. #4
    Opera Lively Coordinator - Donor Member Top Contributor Member tyroneslothrop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    Most folks don't realize the state is primarily rural and agricultural (not necessarily by choice..).
    Most folks who didn't grow up watching Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor in Green Acres that is, but those of us who did probably thought (like me) that Hooterville was somewhere up the Hudson from NYC!
    “The hand of Providence creeps among the stars, giving Slothrop the finger.”
    ― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

  5. #5
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Glowing review on Opera Today for the entirety of Glimmerglass Festival.
    Although I do agree with a lot of this critic's praise for many high-quality parts, and I although I only attended half of the offerings, I wouldn't go as far as agreeing with the entirety of James Sohre's enthusiasm for every single aspect of the shows. They weren't as perfect as he is implying, I believe; but then, nothing is, and I also did very much enjoy the productions of King for a Day and The Flying Dutchman (but not Camelot). Anyway, some exaggerations apart, I'm glad that these highly enjoyable and even brilliant productions were this well received, as after my visit I grew very fond of the Glimmerglass operation and will be strongly rooting for them from now on.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  6. #6
    Opera Lively News Coordinator Top Contributor Member MAuer's Avatar
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    Love those beautiful, well-maintained 19th century buildings!

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