Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Praise for The Flying Dutchman

Rebecca Nash (Senta). Philip Newton photo
"(Stage Director) [Christopher] Alden returns to Seattle after a long hiatus. He was last invited here for a Don Giovanni in 1991 that reportedly generated a heated audience backlash. Kudos to general director Aidan Lang for inviting him back: Dutchman, which closes Lang's second season at the helm, signals a serious commitment to opera and is the finest production the company has staged to date under his watch."- Bachtrack 

"['The Flying Dutchman'] clocks in at under two and a half hours (without intermission)... the impassioned singers, the clever staging and the imaginative sets are so consistently engaging that Seattle Opera’s performance just speeds by." - The Seattle Times

Members of the Seattle Opera Chorus in The Flying Dutchman. Philip Newton photo
"On Saturday night in Seattle, in a revival of this Canadian Opera Company 1996 production, what happened on stage can only be described as stunning ... I was left gobsmacked unable to write-so moved I was by this show. It has taken me 24 hours to recover." - National Opera Journal

"Director Christopher Alden makes full use of the ingenious Allen Moyer set, with elements that quickly switch locales from shipboard to shore without any major breaks in the action. Anne Militello’s inventive lighting designs underscore and clarify the story line with jaw-dropping effects." - The Seattle Times

Seattle Opera presents The Flying Dutchman. Philip Newton photo 
"Seattle Opera’s production of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman opens with one of the most arresting curtain-raisings I’ve seen from the company: the cast filling Allen Moyer’s set, a cavernous box-within-a-box that is tilted 10 degrees or so off level. It’s an immediate cue that this isn’t going to be a traditionalist staging..." - Seattle Weekly 

"The Seattle Opera Chorus sang with gripping vitality, even while executing some [vigorous choreography]." - The Queen Anne News

"Wagner intended the opera to be presented without breaks between acts and the Seattle Opera in this production honors his 'through-composed' vision to great effect. (And for those who were a little scared of being subjected to 2.5 hours of uninterrupted opera the program likened it to the length of time we all have sat through a movie)." - The Seattle Times

Nikolai Schukoff (Erik). Philip Newton photo
"This cast boasts two excellent tenors with fresh, flexible, lovely voices: David Danholt as Erik, Senta’s betrothed, rightly peeved when she decides to wed the Dutchman, and Colin Ainsworth as the ship’s Steersman. Danholt was a winner of the Seattle Opera’s 2014 Wagner Competition, Ainsworth is making his company debut; I hope they both return soon and often." - Seattle Weekly

"In Saturday’s opening-night cast, the great strength and experience of the principal singers brought an unmistakable authority to their performances." - The Seattle Times

"The Dutchman was played on this night by Greer Grimsley. Grimsley has a swarthy dark voice that while powerful, is also versatile. It is easy for these Wagnerian singers to belt their way (at their peril) through these roles, but Grimsley always finds the color and the essence of the character." - National Opera Journal

Greer Grimsley as The Dutchman. Philip Newton photo
"In his Seattle Opera debut, Nikolai Schukoff as Erik, the huntsman in love with Senta, was as much the star of the evening as Grimsley and Nash. With his warmly expressive tenor, Schukoff was heart-rending in Act 3 reminding Senta in vain about her previous vow to him of love and fidelity." - The Queen Anne News

"In Saturday’s opening-night cast, the great strength and experience of the principal singers brought an unmistakable authority to their performances. The Dutchman, bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, is a familiar figure here (most impressively as Wotan in Seattle Opera’s “Ring”); he probes every nuance of the title role as a captain doomed to sail the seas in a ghost ship until he is redeemed by true love. With Grimsley’s commanding stage presence and resonant voice, this is a role that suits him admirably, and one he has frequently sung. The experience shows." - The Seattle Times

"Allen Moyer's unit set was an austere rectangular box dominated on one side by a massive steering wheel and a metal spiral staircase on which the Dutchman's 'ascension' played out in the denouement. The exaggerated tilt of the box recalled the Expressionist atmosphere of films like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. In the opening scene this served handily as a 'realistic' representation of Daland's storm-tossed vessel." - Bachtrack

Members of the Seattle Opera Chorus in The Flying Dutchman. Philip Newton photo

"His Senta, Australian soprano Rebecca Nash, is making her Seattle debut — and what an interesting debut it is. Nash is a passionate singing actor with a voice of considerable heft and power." - The Seattle Times

"The Steersman, Colin Ainsworth, [was] the most lyric voice on the stage. Vocal beauty is still important in Wagner, and Ainsworth brought loads of it." - National Opera Journal

"Nikolai Schukoff, as her unsuccessful and hapless suitor Erik, is an ardent singer who becomes a tragicomic figure in this staging, with exaggerated attitudes of suffering that draw some audience laughter. (Alden has him attempting suicide in several positions with a rifle whose barrel is too long for the task.) You’d think that chuckles might be inappropriate in this ultraserious opera, but they humanize the characters and give more poignant depth to the denouement." - The Seattle Times 

Wendy Bryn Harmer (Senta) and Alfred Walker (The Dutchman). Philip Newton photo
"... Wagner was well aware of the dangerous potential art possesses when the goal is no longer escapist entertainment. So is director Christopher Alden, whose production (originally created for Canadian Opera Company two decades ago) mirrors the young composer's sense of thrilling new horizons beyond routine and convention. With a cast of powerhouse singers, this Dutchman sustains an arc of high-voltage tension, refusing to loosen its grip until the final blackout." - 

"As Senta’s father, the sea captain Daland, Daniel Sumegi creates a memorable portrayal with his mighty voice and his deft acting. Colin Ainsworth is a lyrical Steersman and a highly effective actor; Luretta Bybee does fine work in the shorter role of Mary." - The Seattle Times

Colin Ainswroth (Steersman). Philip Newton photo
"Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing, who made his Seattle debut with the company’s 2014 International Wagner Competition, coaxed vivid and exciting performances from an orchestra that knows this composer inside and out." - The Seattle Times

"Sunday’s alternate cast created a remarkably different show. In the title role, Alfred Walker was a strong actor with a warm tone that didn’t quite have the heroic presence that Wagner requires. Wendy Bryn Harmer was a standout Senta with a big, radiant voice; David Danholt (one of the winners of Seattle Opera’s 2014 International Wagner Competition) sang with artful clarity as the ill-fated Erik." - The Seattle Times

Rebecca Nash (Senta), Daniel Sumegi (Daland), Luretta Bybee (Mary). Philip Newton photo
Remaining performances of Seattle Opera's The Flying Dutchman: May 11, 14, 18, 20, & 21. Tickets & info: #SODutchman