Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Der fliegende Holländer
PERFORMER: Hans Sotin, Cheryl Studer, Plácido Domingo, Uta Priew, Peter Seiffert, Bernd Weikl; Deutsche Oper Berlin Orchestra & Chorus/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: 437 778-2
Yet another Flying Dutchman heaves into view, but although this one has much to recommend it, it is still far from the ideal version one longs to hear. The Dutchman himself has to have a commanding vocal presence, yet convey the existential torment of the character condemned to wander the seas forever. Bernd Weikl has moments of inspiration but only intermittently plumbs the emotional depths, and the central section of his Monologue (‘Dich frage ich’) is so grotesquely ill-tuned that it should never have been allowed through.

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Cheryl Studer, like Behrens for Dohnányi, is less than perfectly secure technically but right inside the character of Senta. As for Domingo’s Erik, there is no shortage of fine exponents of this unrewarding role on disc, and although his two set pieces are delivered with style and passion, he is too prosaic in the evocation of his dream. Sotin and Priew are satisfactory as Daland and Mary.

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Sinopoli, despite his reputation, is less idiosyncratic in his tempo relations than Levine on the recent Sony recording; indeed, he conducts rather well here and there is little to complain about on that score. To get a Dutchman who can really project the desired anguish, though, one has to go back to Hotter (for Krauss), Uhde (for Keilberth), Fischer-Dieskau (for Konwitschny), Crass (for Sawallisch) or Bailey (for Solti). Unfortunately these recordings all fall down in other respects, and one is left with a somewhat half-hearted recommendation for the Dohnányi recording: decently conducted but the Dutchman undersung by Robert Hale. Barry Millington