Der fliegende Holländer, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Wagner Wochen, February 2010Posted on 12 February 2010
The stars of this performance were Manuela Uhl as Senta, and Hans-Peter König as her father Daland. Both sang very strongly, and along with Endrik Wottrich as Erik, they portrayed their roles with great sensitivity. Egils Silins as the Dutchman was not in the same league as Uhl and König. He would have made a good Hunding in Walküre, but did not have the voice to dominate in this particular cast. His stage presence was also weak, and when facing Senta alone on stage he held a rather pathetic stance. A good director should be able to overcome this, but I’m afraid Tatjana Gürbaca was not up to the job. She was probably more concerned with her own strange concept, in which the men were shown as financial traders, and the women as performers and party girls. In the end the Dutchman gave Senta a knife to kill Erik, which she did, and Senta’s nurse Marie killed Senta the same way. I haven’t the faintest idea what story Ms. Gürbaca was trying to stage and, judging by the enormous amount of booing at the end, nor did most of the audience. The words, however, were by Wagner and so was the music, beautifully played under the direction of Jacques Lacombe.
In the previous two operas this week, Lohengrin and Rienzi, the lighting was wonderful but there was no mention of the lighting designer. In this opera, however, Wolfgang Göbbel took credit and it was appalling — far too bright much of the time, and when lights were shone directly into the auditorium it suggested that the director wanted to insult the audience as well as Wagner. Indeed the director was the problem, rather than Herr Göbbel, who designed wonderful lighting for Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt at Covent Garden a year ago. But if you closed your eyes, as I did most of the time, the great music still came through with fine effect.
This is apparently Ms. Gürbaca’s first Wagner opera, and I hope it may be her last.
I just got back from the Wagner Woche in Berlin and agree with most of your comments regarding ‘Holländer’ except that at the performance I attended on Feburary 11th, Egils Silins was in good voice with plenty of stage presence. I don’t share your enthusiasm for König and Uhl, the former does not use his excellent voice with any subtlety and it is the second time I have been underwhelmed by Uhl. I heard her as Chrysothemis in last year’s Strauss Woche.
However, along with those of Calixto Beito, any production involving Tatjana Gürbaca is to be avoided at all costs. It is the first time I have been in an opera house when, as the final curtain came down, just about everyone in the audience booed, mainly I think with relief that it was all over.
John, Many thanks for the warning about Calixto Beito! I shall be very wary, and it’s the last Gürbaca production I shall attend. Sorry we don’t agree on Egils Silins. He was Orestes in ‘Elektra’ last year, and I found him a bit weak in that smaller part too.