Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conducting his debut Wagner opera at the Met – and his first appearance there since being announced as music director designate to succeed James Levine – led a thrilling, without-intermission, Flying Dutchman during which an extra dimension of excitement was generated by a superb cast of relative newcomers to the house.
Michael Volle is a powerful Dutchman, combining beauty of tone with magnetic stage presence. Each of his entrances, and his final exit, were moments of intense drama, with Gil Wechsler’s lighting giving him an appropriately supernatural pallor. Amber Wagner as Senta matched Volle’s vocal power in their extended duet as well as in her beautifully rendered ‘Ballad’. Franz-Josef Selig’s deep bass defined Daland as a sympathetic character despite the materialism that makes him eager to marry Senta to a complete stranger.
Ben Bliss brought a lovely lilt to the Steersman’s serenade in the opening scene, and cavorted delightfully as Daland’s sailors taunted the crew of the Dutchman’s phantom vessel. AJ [sic] Glueckert, as Erik, Senta’s ardent suitor, was impressive at two crucial moments – his narration of his dream that Senta would sail with the Dutchman, and then his attempt to dissuade her from doing so. The only Met veteran is Dolora Zajick, an able Mary.
The Flying Dutchman affords a chorus many opportunities: as Daland’s sailors; in the women’s ‘Spinning Chorus’; their jovial combining later, and when the ghostly crew joins the Norwegians – Donald Palumbo’s charges rose to each situation brilliantly.
August Everding’s 1989 production is about as realistic as one can expect for a ghost story, with Hans Schavernoch’s sets and Lore Haas’s costumes placing it in the late-nineteenth-century, and Wechsler’s lighting providing dramatic impact. Stephen Pickover’s direction carefully fits the action to the libretto.
Confirming their rapport with him, the members of the Met Orchestra showered Nézet-Séguin with flowers when he appeared for his curtain-call.
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- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday April 29 at 6 p.m.