Launching its 2012-13 season on a high note, Opéra de Montréal brings Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman to the Place des Arts’s Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, at the epicentre of the city’s cultural scene. So get a sitter, make dinner reservations and don your finery! You’re going out for a night on the town.
This story of love and death, desire and redemption tells the story of a girl named Senta, who’s engaged to dude named Erik. Problem is, Senta spends her time daydreaming of the Flying Dutchman, the Robert Pattinson of 18th century Norway – a dark and dapper legendary seaman who’s said to have made a pact with the devil. He’s condemned to roam the seas for eternity – unless he meets a woman who promises that she’ll be forever faithful. Little does Senta know that to Erik’s chagrin, Senta’s sailor dad met the Flying Dutchman on his last voyage and promised him his daughter’s hand.
A wedding is in the works… but Erik ruins the party by reminding Senta of her promise to him. The Dutchman overhears the conversation and, in operatic despair, hurriedly weighs anchor when, in a final act of loyalty, Senta faces death to save her forbidden love from his sentence of damnation.
Musically speaking, the story is spiced with roaring duets and rousing choruses; standout moments include the Dutchman’s first aria, in which he bemoans his immortality despite many efforts to end his life; Senta’s passionate ballad, which pushes the singer’s voice to new heights; and a great chorus in which sailors and young girls call out to the Dutchman’s crew. The music throughout is overlaid with the sound of waves from the moment the curtain rises, a penetrating rhythm that wraps around every word and note.
As a guarantee of authenticity, Opéra de Montréal has brought in the lead performers direct from Germany: bass-baritone Thomas Gazheli will take the starring role of the Dutchman, alongside soprano Maida Hundeling as Senta, while her poor sap of a fiancé Erik will be played by tenor Endrick Wottrich. Each of the four performances starting November 10 will be preceded with a pre-opera talk at 6:30 pm by musicologist Pierre Vachon (in French with a summary in English), in the Piano Nobile room in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier.
This is just the first quarter of the opera season, of course – up ahead there’s some Strauss, Dead Man Walking by Heggie and Manon by Massenet… so stay tuned! No pun intended.
Opéra de Montréal presents Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, November 10, 13, 15 & 17, 2012