Donizetti’s Francophile comedy La Fille du régiment went down a storm when it was premiered in Paris. It clocked up over 500 performances at the Opéra-Comique in a little over 30 years and was regularly performed there on Bastille Day. Set in the Napoleonic Wars, Marie is the vivandière of a French regiment. Soldiers found her abandoned on the battlefield as a baby and they raised her as “the daughter of the regiment”. In Donizetti’s frothy opera, she falls in love with Tonio, a Tyrolean but one who happily switches his allegiance to France. Their romance is thwarted when it is discovered that Marie is the niece of the redoubtable Marquise de Birkenfield, who drags her away to raise the tomboy as a lady. Will love win the day? Not if the Marquise has anything to do with it!
Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman is, frankly, less of a giggle. It is essentially a ghost story about a sea captain who is cursed to roam the seas forever without rest. Once every seven years, he can step ashore and – if he can find the love of a good woman who will be true to him – he will be released from the curse. The opera was inspired by a perilous sea voyage from Riga to London that Wagner undertook in 1839 – listening to the stormy overture, this isn’t hard to believe.
Director Philipp Stölzl's production has already been seen in Basel and Berlin. In his Dutchman, the action takes place in Senta’s imagination. In the library of Daland’s mansion, she searches out the book which tells the Dutchman’s tale, obsessed by his story. Daland brings in Senta’s husband-to-be (not the Dutchman) but Senta instead imagines the Dutchman in a giant portrait, so the duet takes place on two levels. At her wedding party, things don’t go quite as planned.
Albert Dohmen and Egils Silins share the role of the Dutchman, with the Latvian Silins taking the role in late May. For the final two performances in the run, dramatic soprano Anja Kampe sings Senta, a role she has sung all over Europe.
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Article sponsored by Gran Teatre del Liceu.