Der fliegende Holländer

Giuseppe Sinopoli
Chor und Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin
February 1991
Großer Sendesaal SFB Berlin
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandHans Sotin
SentaCheryl Studer
ErikPlácido Domingo
MaryUta Priew
Der Steuermann DalandsPeter Seiffert
Der HolländerBernd Weikl
Corliss Phillabaum

There is much to enjoy in this studio recording. The recorded sound is warm and vivid with an excellent balance between the voices and the orchestra. The voices have enough presence for the words to be clearly intelligible do not sound unnaturally forward of the orchestra; even in the major climaxes both orchestra and voices ring out clearly and distinctly. As usual in his recordings Giuseppe Sinopoli brings plenty of energy to the music with a wide dynamic range and extreme changes in tempo, which works very well with this score. Vocally the soloists are well up to the demands of the music and the small role of the Steersman is given luxury casting with Peter Seiffert early in his career.

My main reservation about the performance is that it lacks a sense of drama and never escapes the limitations of a studio recording. Bernd Weikl sings the Dutchman’s music very tastefully and with fine tone, but never really catches the desperate anguish of the character, while Hans Sotin as Daland sings mellifluously but is also rather bland. Peter Seiffert sings the Steersman with beautiful tone but his solo lacks any sense of growing sleepy, he simply studiously observes the dynamics. Only Cheryl Studer and Placido Domingo bring some life to their characters as Senta and Erik, and Domingo makes the usually whiny Erik so vivid and passionate that it seems improbable that Senta would turn him down for the rather colorless stranger. Despite the fine overall recorded sound, there is no attempt to make use of the possibilities of stereo to clarify the action or relationships. The singers are anchored to their microphones center stage and the chorus is arrayed behind them in concert position. Even in their simultaneous internal monologues in Act 2, Senta and the Dutchman are audibly standing right next to one another singing into microphones.

Despite my reservations, there is fine music-making here, though it could have been much more than that. Recommended as a concert version of the opera

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593 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 575 MByte (flac)