Der fliegende Holländer

Renato Palumbo
China National Symphony Chorus
National Opera of China Orchestra
24 March 1999
Cultural Centre Macau
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandJorge Vaz de Carvalho
SentaElizabeth Connell
ErikWolfgang Neumann
MaryLiliana Bizineche
Der Steuermann DalandsJosé Manuel Araújo
Der HolländerBernd Weikl
Anne Cheng

Macau opened its new Cultural Centre last week with three performances of Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman”, the last of which I attended. A fitting choice perhaps for this Portuguese enclave.

The new building, designed by Bruno Soares, a local architect, stands imposingly on the waterfront, and houses two auditoria, conference rooms and exhibition areas. The 1200-seat auditorium boasts excellent acoustics as well as comfortable seating. To hear such a high-quality ensemble in such surroundings for the equivalent of USD19 was a real bargain.

This was a very effective and enjoyable production both musically and visually. The two leading singers were warmly received by anenthusiastic audience.

Bernd Weikl presented a menacing, melancholy Dutchman and was in strong vocal form throughout. Elizabeth Connell made an impressive Senta with even tones in all registers, accurate intonation and a thrilling, heroic ring to her high notes. The supporting roles were also well-sung, although Wolfgang Neumann sounded strained in the higher-lying passages of Erik’s role. Jorge Vaz de Carvalho’s Daland was a well-meaning sort, totally at a loss when confronted with Senta and the Dutchman’s fascination for each other.

The chorus were excellent with lusty singing from the male members as sailors and clear tones from the sopranos in particular in the Spinning chorus. The orchestra played strongly under Renato Palumbo’s direction and brought out the drama in Wagner’s score very effectively without losing sight of its lyrical elements.

The strength of Paolo Trevisi’s staging lay in its vivid creation of a moodily romantic atmosphere. You could almost taste the sea-salt andfeel the spray. The overture was accompanied by flashes of lightning and a storm at sea seen through a diamond-shaped porthole formed by panels which opened out into a space to be filled by the prows of the two ships. At the end of the opera, the panels close up again as a dawn light appears in the porthole.

My only quibble is that the lighting plot was too uniformly dark which meant details were lost in the general gloom. A more creative use of lighting would have enhanced the production, but the designer may have been limited by the equipment avaible in the new auditorium which is designed, it seems, as much for concerts as for theatrical productions.

Anne Cheng

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Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
192 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 176 MByte (MP3)
A production by Paolo Trevisi