Der fliegende Holländer from the Bayreuth festival 1959
A short while ago the German label Orfeo released a version of Der fliegende Holländer from the Bayreuth festival 1959 conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch (for the complete cast list click here). This is good news for a couple of reasons. First, this means Orfeo is still active releasing recordings from the Bayreuth festival. Second, Orfeo has access to the BR (Bayerischer Rundfunk) archive which means what you get is the best possible quality. They don’t have to revert to a broadcast copy they use the BR master tape. Third, there are still some recordings from the Bayreuth festival that haven’t seen the light of the day. Before we had the flying Dutchman from July 23, 1959, released by Melodram, Myto and others. The new Dutchman from Orfeo is dated August 5, 1959. Now we have both performances of Der fliegende Holländer the BR taped in 1959, right? Unfortunately this is not the case.

A comparison between the new Orfeo and the older releases from Melodram etc. reveals that it is the same performance we hear. What does that mean? Since Orfeo has access to the BR archive we can safely assumed that they know what they released, the performance from August 5. So all the other already known releases from Melodram etc. are from the August 5 performance as well and not from the premiere July 23. Why Orfeo released the performance from August 5 we can only speculate. Either they noticed that the performance from July 23 had already released and chose therefore the other performance to increase their selling opportunity or they compared the two tapes in the BR archive and chose the better one.

Conclusion: We now know we have the performance from August 5 but the one from July 23 is missing.


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