Der fliegende Holländer

Joel Revzen
Chorus and Orchestra of the Arizona Opera
24 March 2006
Symphony Hall Phoenix
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandGustav Andreassen
SentaElizabeth Byrne
ErikJay Hunter Morris
MaryKorby Myrick
Der Steuermann DalandsDaniel Montenegro
Der HolländerDonnie Ray Albert
Arizona Daily Star

Wow effects, singing at opera

March 30, 2006 12:00 am • By Cathalena E. Burch

Say you’ve been sentenced to spend eternity sailing the seas with a crew straight out of “Night of the Living Dead” and your only shot of salvation comes every seven years. That’s when you’re allowed to get off the ship to search for everlasting, true and faithful love.
Say it’s been seven years and you get your shot at redemption — and you find a woman willing to go faithfully along and love you, thus freeing you from this curse. Surely you’d jump for joy, smile ear-to-ear and dance in the streets, right?
Well, someone forgot to program that emotion into the very talented baritone Donnie Ray Albert, who sings the lead role of the Dutchman in Arizona Opera’s season-ending production of Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman.”
In a performance at the Phoenix Symphony Hall last Friday, Albert wore a frown painted on his face throughout the three-hour production. Even when it appeared his salvation was at hand — not a smile. Which was disappointing because Albert can sing.
Boy can he sing. He has a voice that’s deep and soulful, alternately authoritative, vulnerable and moody. Woven throughout his performance last Friday were magnificent melodic strains that were downright beautiful.
But his acting was wooden. In the opening act, when his ghoulish ship runs aground in the storm and he meets up with Daland (sung by the very talented bass Gustav Andreassen), he plodded on the makeshift ship’s deck, moving slowly to match the character’s heavy heart and burden. It was the right emotion for the moment, but it was an emotion that Albert couldn’t shake even as his character’s fortunes turned around.
Andreassen, who guested with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for its recent performance of Mozart’s “Requiem,” showed off some fine acting chops in his role as the greedy ship captain. Daland doesn’t hesitate when the Dutchman asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage in exchange for all untold treasures. Andreassen seems downright slimy when he shakes the Dutchman’s hand and pledges his daughter will do anything he says.
Hopefully, Albert will be in a better mood this weekend. Perhaps he’ll smile when Senta (sopranoes Elizabeth Byrne and Oksana Krovytska, who alternate in the part) reaches for his hand and pledges her love for him.
The cast also includes Tucson fave mezzo-soprano Korby Myrick playing the spinning ladies’ den mother, Mary; and the able tenor Daniel Montenegro making his Arizona Opera debut in the role of the young and silly Steersman.
This is the first time Arizona Opera has staged a Wagner opera since the late Glynn Ross boldly staged Wagner’s complete “Ring Cycle” — an ambitious four-part series of operas that, if performed back-to-back, would take up nearly 15 hours, intermissions not included. Ross did it over two seasons in Flagstaff in 1996 and ’98.
For “Dutchman,” the company tapped lighting designer Harry Frehner and stage director Henry Akina. The pair’s take on Wagner was rooted in the 18th century, with some odd 21st-century touches, including Senta and Mary appearing on stage during the overture for no particular reason.
The lighting effects and stage props included a stage so dark that you didn’t get the full effect of the true creepiness of the Dutchman’s walking-dead crew. Special effects included swirling smoke against a black curtain in Act 1 that simulated a coming storm and the emergence in the first act of the Dutchman’s ship, this enormous structure that looked just like an ancient pirate ship.
It came out of nowhere and seemed to sail onto the stage. At the performance in Phoenix last Friday, when the audience first saw the ship, it let out a collective “wow.”

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192 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 176 MByte (MP3)
Webstream (KBAQ)
A production by Henry Akina
Possible dates: 24, 26, 31 march, 2 april 2006