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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Opera Review: Der Fliegende Holländer (again!)

Monday night's sailing of The Flying Dutchman at the Met marked the house debut of an impressive singer. Soprano Lori Phillips, substituting for an ill Deborah Voigt in the key role of Senta, sang the role with formidable power and passion. She was complemented by Juha Uusitalo in the title role, sounding much more sure of himself than at the season premiere.

Perhaps it was due to better personal health, (or maybe just that the Dutchman's enormous gangplank worked correctly) but Mr. Uusitalo was a much improved (if still doomed) Dutchman. The top of the voice had regained its fierce growl and the high notes rung with confidence. He also managed an impressive entrance with "Die frist ist um," carrying off this difficult aria in such a way as to provide momentum to the rest of his performance.



Ms. Phillips is an American singer with a powerful, dramatic voice and good acting ability. She takes a different approach to the role, singing with more consistent volume throughout. And yet, she sings the notes accurately. Unlike Ms. Voigt, Ms. Phillips opened up the voice at the start of the Ballad, narrating the story of her ghostly obsession and sounding just slightly over the edge. Real romantic dementia set in with the arrival of Mr. Uusitalo. Their slow-building Act II duet rose to a mighty climax that foreshadowed the powerful third act.

This is an opera where the Met chorus really gets to shine. Whether they're portraying the capering Norwegian sailors, the ghostly mariners trapped aboard the Dutchman's ship, or the spinning, sail-making women-folk of the tiny nautical town, the choristers were on exceptional form on Monday night. Their finest moment came in Act III, where the three aforementioned groups battle it out on the docks. Also worth mentioning is bass Hans-Peter König as Daland. His bumptious sea captain-turned-pimp-daddy is one of the chief pleasures of this current run.

Out to sea: Juha Uusitalo as the Flying Dutchman.
Photo © 2010 Corey Weaver/The Metropolitan Opera
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.