With a ghoulishly murky 'Dutchman,' Opera puts on a truly grim production
Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic
Friday, November 12, 2004
It was, yes, a dark and stormy night as the San Francisco Opera unveiled its new production of "The Flying Dutchman" at the War Memorial Opera House on Wednesday. As a program note reminded us, Edward Bulwer-Lytton's undying clunker of an opening line applies nicely to Wagner's ghostly sea tale, and it applied less happily to this grim little undertaking.
Dark, because murk and obscurity constitute the reigning aesthetic of director Nikolaus Lehnhoff's bizarre production, a black-on-black nightmare of ghoulish abstractions. And stormy, because the evening's musical values -- with a couple of welcome exceptions -- fell so alarmingly short of the company's usual standards.
Not every horror story is an entertaining one. Sometimes they're merely horrifying.
The dismay of Wednesday's opening was all the more acute because Wagner's fleet-footed tale of spectral wandering and redemption needs so little help, relatively speaking, to make its mark.
[Click here for remainder of article.]
The Dutchman — Juha Uusitalo
Senta — Nina Stemme
Erik — Christopher Ventris
Daland — Walter Fink
Click here for program notes.
Related article: Soprano buoys `Dutchman'