COURTESY PHOTOGreer Grimsley

COURTESY PHOTOGreer Grimsley

S.F. Opera’s 'Flying Dutchman' could use a lift

The hero of Richard Wagner's “The Flying Dutchman” is cursed to sail from port to port through centuries, until redeemed by the love of a woman. San Francisco Opera's new production of the work also is troubled. And at the premiere Tuesday night in the War Memorial Opera House, redemption was partial and insufficient.

There was a storybook debut in the making with the recent, late casting of world-renowned San Franciscan Lise Lindstrom, who never before sang with the company.

Her Senta was highly anticipated, and opera fans expected a homecoming triumph. Yet the dramatic soprano – who has performed the seminal role of Turandot more than 100 times in the U.S. and in Europe – appeared indisposed, although no announcement was made.

Lindstrom made a great, eventually successful, effort to overcome what sounded like a problem with her throat, and at the end of the opera, when she becomes the pivotal character, she finally sang full out.

Patrick Summers' direction of the hard-working orchestra hit weak spots between very loud passages and time passing without drive and sustained interest. Oboist Mingjia Liu had outstanding solos.

The show wasn’t without positive moments. After Act 1, a well-deserved curtain call went to chorus director Ian Robertson, who stood onstage with his singers. They sang up a storm in this stormy opera, particularly the men, who were together, powerful and projected wondrously.

Righteous applause also greeted bass-baritone Greer Grimsley, who sang the title role, and bass Kristinn Sigmundsson as Daland. Grimsley's voice is rich, his projection exemplary, and he acts the cursed, woebegone Dutchman with believable authority.

Sigmundsson, as usual, was powerful and reliable. The Act 1 duet between the two men – Daland instantly pledging Senta, his daughter, to the wealthy, generous stranger who impresses him – was a vocal highlight.

A.J. Glueckert as Steersman and Erin Johnson as Mary were fine; Ian Storey as Erik was less dazzling.

Petrika Ionesco, the original director and set designer of this co-production with Belgium's Opéra Royal de Wallonie, was relieved of the job by San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley just one week before the premiere, apparently due to confusion and miscommunication.

Assistant director Elkhanah Pulitzer took over, and did what she could, under the circumstances. Production designer S. Katy Tucker's work is so realistic, and seasick inducing, that patrons may want to have some Dramamine at hand.

REVIEW

The Flying Dutchman

Presented by San Francisco Opera

Where: War Memorial Opera House, 301 Van Ness Ave., S.F.

When: 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and Nov. 15; 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31, Nov. 7 and Nov. 12; 2 p.m. Nov. 3

Tickets: $28 to $397, $10 standing room

Contact: (415) 864-3330, www.sfopera.com

artsClassical Music & OperaFlying DutchmanLise LindstromSan Francisco Opera

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

U.S. Attorney David Anderson announces federal firearms charges against two men for their roles in a March 2019 shooting outside the Fillmore Heritage Center in a news conference alongside SFPD staff at the Phillip Burton Federal Building on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Departing U.S. attorney predicts corruption probe will continue

David Anderson shook up City Hall as top federal prosecutor

Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton, a former school board member, has been asked to help secure an agreement between the school district and teacher’s union. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
 <ins></ins>
Supervisor Walton tapped to mediate teacher contract talks

District and union at odds over hours in-person students should be in the classroom

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

Most Read