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Wagner The Flying Dutchman (one-act version)

Daland: Clive Bayley Senta: Orla Boylan Erik: Stuart Skelton Mary: Susanna Tudor-Thomas Steersman: Robert Murray The Dutchman: James Cresswell
Chorus and Orchestra of English National Opera / Gardner

Early evening performance, ENO, London, 5 May 2012


There is not a lot left to say about ENO's Dutchman; Google the indispensible TheOperaCritic for some twenty positive reviews of the first night [L & R] !

We found the singing persuasive, and diction commendable, but the adult Senta's '40s dress off-putting for a romantic operatic heroine (it had taken time to get used to her childhood self in bed for the first part - v.s.).

We enjoyed it from back stalls, with the orchestra and chorus sounding truly magnificent under Edward Gardner, and many of the words commendably audible.

More than two hours makes for a long sit, and legs can become restless, but it suited this production to have it sweep us from beginning to the enigmatic end without a break. And it was good to get home at a reasonable hour!

There were impressive videos of sea and ghostly ship (now obligatory in opera production) but at least one striking conceit in Jonathan Kent's production which seems to have escaped the notice of other reviewers.

The spinning chorus became a ship-in-a-bottle packing assembly-line - surely an allusion to the splendid one which had been gracing Trafalgar Square's 4th plinth close by, and which is now resplendent at its permanent home outside the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

No doubt souvenir copies are being manufactured, packed and sold in their hundreds, for this year's Royal celebrations; they are already on sale at the refurbished Cutty Sark close by, newly re-opened to the public.

We join our recommendation of ENO's Dutchman to all the others.

Peter Grahame Woolf

[Photo PGW]