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Monday, April 27, 2009

Atlanta Opera's Flying Dutchman delivers sturm, drang

click to enlarge THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA: Mark Delavan as the Dutchman in the Atlanta Opera
  • THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA: Mark Delavan as the Dutchman in the Atlanta Opera

The Flying Dutchman can frighten people, and not just because he’s a centuries-old ghostly captain, doomed to sail the seven seas eternally.

Richard Wagner’s supernatural nautical romance The Flying Dutchman, like many heavyweight operas, can intimidate audiences because of its running time and language barrier, not to mention the grandeur of the feelings involved. Opera arguably traffics in greater passions than any of the art forms, and the characters express emotions more deeply than the average person may feel in a lifetime. The Atlanta Opera’s The Flying Dutchman proves that opera, however stylized, can rise above the ironic detachment that ascends so much contemporary art.

The Flying Dutchman's protagonists tap such soaring feelings that even their fellows in the Wagnerian ensemble seem, by comparison, as grounded as you and me. The Atlanta Opera’s stirring production, directed by Tomer Zvulun and conducted by Arthur Fagen, still touches on themes that hold relevance to contemporary audiences, while creating a deliciously spooky atmosphere.

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(Photo by Tim Wilkerson)

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