Der fliegende Holländer

Herbert von Karajan
Wiener Staatsopernchor
Berliner Philharmoniker
2-9 December 1981 Berlin
28 March 1982 Salzburg
19 September 1983 Berlin
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandKurt Moll
SentaDunja Vejzović
ErikPeter Hofmann
MaryKaja Borris
Der Steuermann DalandsThomas Moser
Der HolländerJosé van Dam
Corliss Phillabaum

To me this is one of the most embarrassingly inept opera recordings by major artists that I have ever heard. With recording sessions scattered over nearly three years there seems to have been a lot of effort put into it, but the result is extremely disappointing. On paper the singers appear to be highly qualified, but under Herbert von Karajan’s misguided concept of recording an opera their talents are negated. José van Dam (the Dutchman) had one of the most beautiful voices around but here he seems to have been required to concentrate entirely seamless legato with no attention to the sense of the words or the dramatic situation. The same restriction applies to all of the soloists and only Kurt Moll as Daland and Peter Hoffmann as Erik, whose name is missing from the cast list on the back of the case, manage to make the text generally intelligible. As was typical of von Karajan’s opera recordings at this time, the dynamic range is so immense that a normal volume setting makes the many almost whispered soft passages inaudible, while a higher setting for these sections produces ear-splitting volume from the orchestra (especially the brass) and chorus which completely drowns out the soloists. Von Karajan’s overall timing is not the slowest on record, but his extremes range from madly gabbled choral sections to dialogue scenes which are so slow that there is no sense of continuity in the action. The conductor seems to be trying to force the sections of flowing melody (which reflect the influence of the forms of French and Italian opera) into sounding like late Wagner. All of this effort is enveloped in a cloud of resonance which turns the music into auditory mush. Not recommended!

User Rating
Media Type/Label
EMI, Angel
EMI, Warner
Technical Specifications
537 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 560 MByte (flac)