Impressive as Keith Richards “endurance” has been, Richard Wagner outdoes him by remaining unfailingly popular 137 years after his passing. To wit, his exalted opera Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) is having another successful run at New York’s Metropolitan Opera this month, March 2 – 27. And in a special “gift” to those not living within reasonable geographical proximity to Lincoln Center, the Saturday, March 14 performance will be live broadcast to more than 2200 theaters in 70 countries around the globe.
Directed by François Girard—whose 2013 production of Parsifal was a genuine sensation, confirming him as a dab hand at staging Wagner—the haunted tale of a captain cursed to sail the sea for all eternity is made newly epic (Wagner was nothing, if not epic). Indeed, John Macfarlane’s sets are strikingly painterly, and German soprano Anja Kampe’s Met debut as Senta—aside bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin as the Dutchman—is a landmark event for opera lovers.
But surely a singular treat is the solo opening dance by Alison Clancy, with choreography by Carolyn Choa. Specially created for this production, the ethereal dancer appears as a kind of spiritual representation of Senta. Downtown music denizens may actually recognize Clancy from singing and playing guitar at some or other LES indie haunt, as she is known to do between operas. But she has been performing at The Met for about a decade now—and this turn as “the soul of Senta” will surely go down as one of her most unforgettable roles.
“Senta dreams of stopping the stars,” she explains, “changing fate, of being the one true love who can save Holländer from his curse. I hope to embody her as the archetype of fiercely gentle
feminine love, a woman dreaming of a poetic life and navigating her own contradictions:
fragility/strength, restlessness/patience. It’s me dancing with epic projections and the sweeping music played by one of the most amazing orchestras in the world. For these few distilled moments in time, I try with all my heart to honor the alchemical possibilities.”
And what more lofty aspiration?