The Flying Dutchman

Richard Wagner
Klaipeda State Musical Theatre, Lithuania
Klaipeda State Musical Theatre, Lithuania

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The Cast of The Flying Dutchman Credit: Martynas Aleksa
The Cast of The Flying Dutchman Credit: Martynas Aleksa
The Cast of The Flying Dutchman Credit: Martynas Aleksa

In August 2020, Klaipeda State Musical Theatre in Lithuania staged and filmed Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at the old Paul Willi Lindenau Shipyard on the Baltic coast.

The production is directed by Dalius Abaris and Gediminas Šeduikis. The huge frame structures and hoists give the opera a spectacular setting. The scale is so colossal it completely dwarfs singers and audience.

It is the shipyard and the thrilling music, conducted by Medestas Pitrenas, not the singers’ personalities and certainly not their acting, which has the awesome impact. The opera is played straight through without an interval.

Wagner takes his inspiration from Heinrich Heine’s satirical novel Memoirs of Herr von Schnabelwopski and his own trip up the Norwegian fjords in 1839 when he was 26. The opera premièred in 1843. The overture in its surging fury gets the legend off to an exciting start.

The Dutchman (Almas Švilpa) has been sailing the seas in a ghost ship ever since the real ship sank off the coast of Good Hope in 1631. Doomed to sail for eternity, he longs for the Day of Judgement when he will be released from his torment. The only way to find redemption is to find a faithful wife to save him.

Senta is a romantic maiden, very girly, very emotional, very sentimental, very excitable, whose mission in life is to save the Dutchman. She has fallen in love with his portrait and the legend which goes with it. She has a schoolgirl crush. The opera could be Senta’s dream, her fantasy.

Sandra Janušaitė is too mature, too matronly. Casting Eric (Andris Ludvigs), the young man who loves her, as middle-aged is a wise move. Tadas Girinkas as Senta’s father is far nicer than the text suggests he is.

Reviewer: Robert Tanitch