Not the Master’s best, by any means, but still streets ahead of most: strong, muscular, melodious, dramatic, Wagnerian, and able to be staged in most civilizations (Bass x 2, Soprano, Contralto, a couple of tenors). A Mary Celeste story with some soft porn thrown in, it was apparently inspired by both a stormy sea-crossing and Richard’s contempt for Parisians. (TVC team are francophiles but still: Yay!). Add to the inspiration the ghost ship source material that abounded in Wagner’s youth, such as by Marryat and Heine and you can enjoy an immature piece that is still tempestuous, eerie and sombre.
TVC caught a race-trim version in Adelaide by SA State Opera (10/11/2009) directed by Chris Drummond, conducted by Nicholas Braithwaite. Margaret Medlyn lived and breathed the key role of Senta; the Dutchman was the incomparable John Wegner, Australia’s greatest operatic artist since Sutherland. “Hier steh’ ich treu Dir bis zum Tod.”*
The Richard Wagner Society of SA featured a lecture by Professor Heath Lees on the artistic links twixt Wagner and la belle Francaise, and Richard Mills conducted a production with 3D enhancement at Theatre Palais Melbourne but regretfully TVC, its red sails flapping in the sunset, was otherwise engaged – better luck next time.
*[‘Here stand I, faithful, yea, till death!’]
Note: the very good review of the 2009 production at: