Nov 14, 2013
04:57 PM
Arts & Entertainment

Wagner's 'Dutchman' Makes Connecticut Premiere Friday in Waterbury

Wagner's 'Dutchman' Makes Connecticut Premiere Friday in Waterbury

The role of ever-devoted Senta is sung by Lithuanian soprano Jurate Svedaite, star of the CT Lyric Opera

The city of Waterbury—once the nation’s brass capital and now perceived, unfairly, by many as more challenged by urban problems than a bright spot on the state’s arts-and-culture scene—has had a long love affair with opera.

That’s right, opera.

“Waterbury has had a very strong operatic community for decades. In fact, Enrico Caruso himself sang at the Palace Theater,” says Dr. Vincent de Luise, president of the Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation (CSOF), based on nearby Woodbury.

On Friday evening at the Palace Theater, the Connecticut Lyric Opera (CLO) and CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra will offer the first fully-staged and costumed production ever presented in Connecticut of Richard Wagner’s “wondrous and ground-breaking” romantic opera, Der fliegende Hollander, or “The Flying Dutchman.”

“The performance will take place at our own area’s version of Bayreuth,” Dr. de Luise said with enthusiasm. Information on tickets for the 7 p.m. performance is available online.

“In addition to an exciting score and vocal music, we are pleased to announce that CSOF is curating a wine event at the opera’s intermission,” Dr. de Luise wrote in an email. “Come and explore the nuances and delicacy of some delicious gewurtztraminers and proseccos and reunite with your operatic friends from CSOF’s prior events. All revenues after expenses will go to CSOF, to support its dual mission of supporting operatic vocalists and to educating the next generation of concert-goers about the splendor of the operatic art form.”

As for those proseccos and gewurtztraminers, “It is a German opera, after all,” Dr. de Luise said. The wines will be available for $4 by the glass.

And as for the main attraction, “The Flying Dutchman” presented like never before in Connecticut. Here’s the full press release on the special performance, written by Mitra Sadigh of Virtuosi Public Relations:

Sea salt, stormy seas, ghost ships, gleaming treasures, cursed captains and redemption through love conquer the stage this November in the first ever Connecticut production of Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), a co-production of CT Lyric Opera and the CT Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. Fully staged, with soloists, full orchestra, and chorus led by Maestro Adrian Sylveen, this production is perhaps CT Lyric Opera’s grandest to date as the company has grown extensively since its inception eleven years ago, now enlivening stages throughout the state. Audiences are advised to hold on tight for a work whose wind, in conductor Franz Lachner’s words in 1864, “blows out at you wherever you open the score.” 
Originating in 17th century nautical folklore, The Flying Dutchman is the tale of a phantom ship, omen of doom to all who encounter it, captained by a Dutchman cursed to an eternity at sea. From Thomas Moore’s poem On Passing Dead Man’s Island to the Hollywood hit Pirates of the Caribbean, the ghost ship and its captain haunt books, films, plays and animations. Wagner based his adaptation on Heinrich Heine's retelling of the myth in a satirical 1834 novel The Memoirs of Mr. von Schnabelewopski (Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski) in which the Dutchman is permitted on land every seven years to find redemption through a faithful woman’s love. The opera tells the tale threefold: through famous text in the heroine’s ballad, striking stage action and effects, and dramatically shifting soundscapes—callously merciless, desperately pleading, tenderly forgiving.
Wagner’s own adventure at sea enlivens the opera’s score. Having accrued hefty debts from their extravagant lifestyle, Wagner and his wife Minna planned to escape creditors by fleeing Riga, debuting Wagner’s opera Rienzi at the Paris Opéra and making a fortune. When authorities seized Wagner’s passport, the determined couple ventured a perilous, illegal crossing over the Prussian border aboard Thetis, suffering dangerous storms and seeking refuge in Norwegian fjords. Wagner writes in Mein Leben that upon arrival at the safety of the fjord, “a feeling of indescribable content came over me as the enormous granite walls of the cliff echoed the chantings of the crew as they cast anchor ... The sharp rhythm of their call ... soon resolved itself into the theme of the sailors' chorus in my Der Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman). The idea of this opera…took on a definite poetic and musical colour under the influence of the impressions I had just gained.”

The role of ever-devoted Senta is sung by Lithuanian soprano Jurate Svedaite, star of the CT Lyric Opera. Svedaite has performed throughout Europe and the United States with the Lithuanian National Chamber Orchestra, the European Baroque Festival Opera, CT Lyric Opera and New Britain Symphony in venues including Carnegie Hall, the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre and Foxwood’s Resort and Casino. She has sung many star roles including Micaela in Carmen, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Desdemona in Otello, Mimi in La Bohème, and the title role in Tosca. 
With landmark performances in Russia, Europe and the United States, Steven Fredericks stars as The Dutchman. He has appeared as bass soloist in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, Strommenger in La Wally with Teatro Grattecielo at Allice Tully Hall, Reinmar in Tannhäuser, Ferrando in Il Trovatore, Bonze in Madame Butterfly, King of Egypt in Aida and Lodovico in Otello, among countless other roles. He has recently performed Zaccaria in Nabucco and the Commendatore in Don Giovanni with the CT Lyric Opera.
Wagner described The Flying Dutchman as a turning point in his career: “From here begins my career as poet, and my farewell to the mere concoctor of opera-texts.” The work demonstrates his early attempts at operatic styles that would later characterize his music dramas, including the accentuated dramatic role of the orchestra and the combination of music, song, orchestration, drama, text, visual arts and stagecraft into what he called Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art.” 

Clearly excited about the premiere of “the Dutchman” in Connecticut, Dr. de Luise offered his insights into Wagner’s groundbreaking opera.

“My favorite moments in 'The Flying Dutchman' [include] the overture, which carries the splendid and favorite melody of the ship, which serves as a leitmotif in the opera. My other favorite moment is the ending, when the spectral phantom ghost-ship sails away, and Senta and the Dutchman ascend into the empyrean.”

His favorite aria is the “Dream Aria” in Act 2.

“As president of the Connecticut Summer Opera Foundation (CSOF), I am thrilled that Connecticut Lyric Opera (CLO) has chosen to showcase its operas here in Waterbury at the Palace Theater, as well as at the Garde Center in New London, and venues in Middletown and New Britain,” Dr. de Luise said.

Tickets for The Flying Dutchman can be obtained from the Palace Theater box office at 203-346- 2000, or on the website. The Palace Theater is at 100 East Main Street in downtown Waterbury, with plenty of nearby parking.


Wagner's 'Dutchman' Makes Connecticut Premiere Friday in Waterbury

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