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The Flying Dutchman Press Reviews

 

‘He showed how to bring Handel up-to-date by setting Orlando at he start of the 20th century, and now Harry Fehr has turned a similar trick with Wagner, bringing his Dutchman ashore from the North Sea to 1970s Scotland. It is a device that is a complete success in narrative terms…it loses none of the psychological depth…If the director deserves a huge amount of credit for this, designer Tom Scutt’s realistic ship, dockside and community hall sets are just as crucial – and this show is another triumph for choreographer Kally Lloyd-Jones…Musically the score remains Senta’s and soprano Rachel Nicholls is on top form in the role…Music director Francesco Corti shaped the finale – which was staged beautifully – to great effect’
The Herald ****

 

 

‘You’d have to be fairly delusional to fall for the charms of the mysterious Dutchman. That seems to be the conclusion of young director Harry Fehr’s radical 1970s reimagining of Wagner’s early opera for Scottish Opera…Hence the need to portray Senta’s mental state as rather fragile – brilliantly conveyed in Rachel Nicholls’s spellbinding performance, touchingly vulnerable yet shot through with intensity. That intensity was matched by the dark charisma of Peteris Eglitis as the Dutchman himself…Scott Wilde gave a rich, resonant account of Donald…and Nicky Spence was gleeful as the helmsman. In Fehr’s expert evocation of a strange, haunted other world, brilliantly conjured in Tom Scutt’s grimy staging and Ian Williams Galloway’s vivid video projections, that is memorable.’
The Scotsman ****
 

‘it’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking production, with fine playing from the orchestra under Francesco Corti and robust singing from the chorus and cast.’
The Guardian ****

 

‘Scottish Opera’s decision to go back to Wagner’s original plan to set The Flying Dutchman in Scotland works remarkably well in this enthralling new production…By grounding the action in a small Scottish fishing community, director Harry Fehr highlights the incongruity between the fantastical legend and reality…The singing is magnificent, with impressive Scottish Opera debuts from Scott Wilde as Donald, Senta’s money-grabbing father; Jeff Gwaltney as her spurned lover George, recast as a gun-toting minister, and Peteris Eglitis in the title role...[Rachel Nicholls] is compelling as the doomed Senta, bringing dignity to the girl looked on as the village fool obsessed with the mythical Dutchman…the chorus, drilled by James Grossmith, anchors key scenes, especially at the denoument in act three. The voices of the ghosts in the Dutchman’s shop, they made the skin on my neck prickle.’
The Daily Telegraph ****

 

‘It is the triumph of Harry Fehr’s production that it wrings every last drop of emotional engagement from this material, helped by a brilliant transposition to a 1970s Scottish fishing port, and by some superlative performances. The setting is not just Scottish Opera being Scottish. It was, apparently, Wagner’s original intention, in homage to Ossian and Scott. Fehr makes the conceit fit like a glove and, thanks to Tom Scutt’s hyper-realist sets, gives it a prosaic mood that somehow makes the libretto easier to swallow…None of the principals disappoints, with Rachel Nicholls’ lear and powerful soprano bursting startlingly from Senta’s dowdy styling. Credit too to a large but well-deployed chorus which, along with some sweet duetting, reminds you how much Wagner knew about harmony. For those seeking a point of access to the music, this fine production serves well.’
Scottish Daily Express ****

 

‘It was a master stroke to set The Flying Dutchman in a north-east fishing village…The contrast between the claustrophobia of a remote, plain-bread coastal community and the turbulent North Sea particularly lends itself to this epic tale…Baritone Peteris Eglitis spent a year preparing for this role as the Dutchman, and proves that Wagnerian roles do not have to take on Brian Blessed-sized proportions, particularly in his interactions with Senta, sung with sweet soaring strength by soprano Rachel Nicholls…It is clear that Scottish Opera has created a magical dark pearl in the bicentenary of the composer’s birth.’
Daily Record ****
 

Tom Scutt’s detailed set is full of possibilities, from the corrugated iron café niched under the pier to the solless carapace of the local village hall, complete with tea urn, stacking chairs and ‘welcome home’ bunting. In this world of bawdy sailors and waiting women,[Director Harry] Fehr injects moments of inspired intimacy, from the dreamlike dumb show in which Senta and her Dutchman finally meet…to a poignant moment when the pair set a little table for two in the village hall, as if playing at the domesticity that they are fated never to enjoy. There are impressive coups de theatre too, particularly the dynamic chorus argy-bargy of Act III, as Nicky Spence’s excellent lusty helmsman leads the crew in a drunken sea-shanty contest…Vocally. The fine cast is led by Rachel Nicholls’s powerful Senta.’
The Times ***

 

Rachel Nicholls bright and lusty Senta irradiates the stage, complemented by Scott Wilde’s warm-voiced, warm-hearted Donald and Jeff Gwaltney’s appealingly lyrical George’
The Financial Times ***

Rachel Nicholls’s Senta, the towering presence here, is less the Romantic neurotic than a volatile, overgrown child…Thrillingly focused and agile, Nicholls sings her heart out, strengthening Senta’s character in each scene.’
The Independent on Sunday

 

‘the bleak mood and the toughness of the dying fishing industry works well…In Tom Scutt’s designs, lit by James Farncombe, reality and suggestion meet with convincing resonance; a steamy chip shop beneath the quayside, a slightly uncertain geography of sea and land and the ghostly apparition of the Dutchman’s ship rising out of a heavy maritime mist…Amid all this, Senta, sung with fearsome strength by Rachel Nicholls – an outstanding Brunnhilde in Longborough’s Ring Cycle, to which she returns this summer – seems more unhinged and alone than ever.’
The Observer