Review of last night's opera: "Der fliegende Holländer"

*This post contains spoilers*
Just when I’d rushed from my daily cafĂ© visit and back home fetch my dinner last night, and having eaten it, my mother asked me wether I wanted to join her to tonight’s opera. I, as I’d promised earlier, thanked her and joined her, and off we went. This is my forth opera, the first german one however, and I was pretty excited.

There are alot of bad thoughts around the concepts of going to the opera. It’s supposed to be very expensive, quite posh and pretty boring. Well. a) if you meet up ten minutes before the show and buy tickets that have been refunded, you get them to a 40% discount. b) there are two kinds of people (as far as I’m concerned) that go in the opera. There’s those who just attend to show-off and meet their wealthy acquaintances, and there are those who actually go to listen to the opera. I hope I’m found under the 2nd category. c) It ain’t boring at all. I’ve been to three operas that were in a language I only know a few sentences of, namely: Italian (in Tosca), Chinese (in I don’t remember) and German (last night’s opera), and you’re forced to stick to reading the sub(or in most cases, sup)titles, but you’ve got to trust me when I say that this doesn’t ruin the experience at all. On the contruary.

Last night’s opera was the 38th performance of Der fliegende Holländer (a.k.a The flying Dutchman) in Den Norske Opera, the 24th performance of this particular production, an opera written by Richard Wagner. It was performed for the first time in Norway the 20th of January 1970, and the first time ever in Dresden the 2nd of January 1843. We were extremely lucky and got some really great seats at the front of the gallery (the 2nd level of the place where you put the audience), and one could see the suptitles, the scene and the orchestra grave without any problems.

Wagner is somewhat known for his darker sides in the history of opera, and the 20 minutes long intro was quite mindblasting, setting the mood you need to get into the story of this classic legend. For those of you not familiar to the legend, it’s all about this captain of a ship who, while riding through the storm around the Cape of Good Hope, curses God for sending this storm upon him and sells his soul to the Devil. This makes him one of the undead, sailing the oceans of the world bringing terror and warnings of death to other sailors. In this particular re-write of the original legend, the cursed captain (the Dutchman) goes to the shore every 7th year to propose to a women of his choosing, and if this women stays faithful to him until eternity – even in the eyes of God – he will be relieved from his curse, but stay undead nonetheless.

Of course there is a plot around this. This particular year the Dutchman, who was played by brilliant Johannes von Duisburg, ends up on the ship of greedy captain Daland (a Norwegian sailor played by Carsten Stabell) who promises to give his daughter’s hand to the Dutchman in return of some of the Dutchman’s gold. He’s unaware and blind to the fate of this lost soul who really just wants to find rest in death. This is in act one. In the 2nd act, we meet the captain Daland’s daughter, Senta played by Turid Karlsen whom happened to be a really great operasinger, who’s strangely in love with the unknown, pale captain of this legend while being wooed by Erik, a hunter played by Ivar Gilhuus. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve seen Gilhuus in a previous opera, and as then he delivered the goods without any flaws. From what I, with my lacking experience, think, Gilhuus didn’t receive as much applause he should’ve, despite the fact that he only played a small role.

To be a tragedy, Wagner has really tuned this opera down to include no more than 2 deaths, one of them already undead. In Tosca, from what I remember of it, everybody with importance died. I think the music of this particular opera, however, really set a dramatic yet credible mood. My greetings to the orchestra of Den Norske Opera, who really got the juices flowing, accompanied at populated parts of the acts by the choir of Den Norske Opera. The drinking scene in act three was close to blowing my hair off! Powerful. This opera is recommended by Sigg3 dot net. I think that should do it.

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