Der fliegende Holländer

Paul Daniel
English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
24/26 September 1997
Coliseum London
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandStephen Richardson
SentaRita Cullis
ErikDavid Rendall
MaryCatherine Savory
Der Steuermann DalandsJohn Hudson
Der HolländerWillard White
Stage directorStein Winge
Set designerTimian Alsaker
TV directorBarrie Gavin
The Telegraph

A lot hangs on the arrival from Opera North of Paul Daniel as music director, successor to the unfortunate Sian Edwards. Daniel is a Rattle-like motivator and a marvellous conductor, full of ideas. The question is whether he is tough enough to persuade the men in suits that risk, flair and originality are best for the balance-sheet in the long term.
The first new production for which he takes responsibility is of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. I would dearly love to report it to be a heartening triumph but, alas, the work of Norwegian director Stein Winge and designer Timian Alsaker brings it perilously close to disaster. Rarely can the Coliseum stage have looked such a mess. Billowing curtains and puffs of dry ice are a feeble way to convey a storm at sea and a vast tilting trampoline hardly makes much of a phantom ship.
The spook sailors are ludicrous (Dr Who circa 1970) Senta’s spinning wheel is a weird Heath Robinson contraption and the knees-up in the third scene an embarrassment. Was it all deliberately naive? Have I missed some subtle interpretative concept? Or was it just the inept travesty it appeared to be?
At least Daniel’s conducting was for real. It radiated tremendous fire and energy, cleanness and confidence. Most heartening of all was the sense of a conductor in dialogue with an orchestra rather than imposing his will on it. The cast was good too, with the bright-toned Senta of Rita Cullis sounding like an Isolde in the making and strong vocal contributions from David Rendall as Erik, John Hudson as the Steersman, Stephen Richardson as Daland, and the thrilling chorus. As the Dutchman himself, Willard White sang and acted with dull monochrome intensity. I find him overrated.

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Media Type/Label
HO DVD10079, Premiere 7154
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Technical Specifications
768×576, 2.2 Mbit/s, 2.2 GByte (MPEG-4)
Sung in English