From Thursday to Saturday last week I had a broad range of musical experiences. From Don Pasquale, to Michael Kieran Harvey and the Flying Dutchman.
Here is Part 3
I don’t particularly like concert versions of opera. It is musical theatre not only music, although a good production of poor music will not save it even if the music can rescue a poor production. In many ways, however, Wagner is a very symphonic composer. His music can work with minimal or no visual stimuli although the playing of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Chief Conductor designate David Robertson, was accompanied by a video display on two sails above the orchestra. The designer S Katy Tucker captured the essence of the characters of the Flying Dutchman without becoming intrusive or distracting.
The soloists included one of the great dramatic baritones of the world Eric Owens. He adhered to the text in a very concentrated way with great articulation, but did not physically engage with the other characters, other than through his singing. In contrast, Irish dramatic soprano Orla Boylan engaged her fellow singers as well as the audience and soared above the orchestra. I could feel her passion half way back in the circle. The other four singers sang appropriately without any comparative weakness in any of them. Robertson wound up the large orchestra when required but kept it contained during the solo singing. The strings worked overtime and the horns and the brass could not have accepted unemployment benefits for this concert. The Sydney Philharmonia Symphony Chorus did not have a big workload but the women faced the men on either sides of Concert Hall. When they interacted they did it with it with passion and vigour. The final choruses matched the drama of the whole piece.
I am recent convert to Wagner. I still prefer the smaller canvasses (if not themes) of Mozart and Britten but I am heartened that Robertson plans more concert versions of opera in the future. He has made his mark in Sydney already.