So on Tuesday this week it was time for my first Wagner experience, Der fliegende Holländer, and it was certainly an experience. Not a bad one, but i'm not sure it was that amazing either! In fact, i'd liken the evening to being a bit like muesli. Now I do like a bit of muesli, but sometimes it can be bloody hard work to get through, and unless you get one with a good fruit/nut balance, you can go along time without much joy. Der fliegende Holländer was much like this, the first half was especially tough and I had to resort to leaning forward in my chair in the hope that the discomfort would keep me a wake (probably didn't help that i'd been cycling all over west London during the day). However the final 45 minutes where pretty good, the pace picked up and the brass began to blow full throttle. There were also some great choral moments too. But at 2hrs 30mins with NO interval it was a proper slog. For the first time ever at the Royal Opera i considered leaving and found myself wishing away the time! On a plus note though, my seat was a bargain at £9 in the lower slips. The view wasn't great as i was practically part of the stage I was so close, but the sound was great, sat right above the orchestra pit.
Der fliegende Holländer is potentially a good story. Translating as the Flying Dutchman, it's the story of a sailor condemned to sail the seas for eternity unless he can get someone to love him until death. apparently he once made a passing comment about rounding some cape, come hell or high water. Satan heard and kind of granted him his wish, only allowing him ashore every seven years. Anyway - in this opera he does come ashore, falls in love, is about to sail away with his new love but misconstrues a conversation he overhears and essentially strops off back to eternal damnation. Good story really, but I just couldn't engage with it that much.
I think what my first Wagner experience has made me realise is that i'm potentially more of an Italian opera fan. I find Italian opera far more tuneful and the music more exciting. I'm not certain that Der fliegende Holländer is the best introduction to Wagner, who knows, but I overheard a fellow audience member saying something quiet fitting for this opera. He turned to his partner and said 'you know what? A lot of that was just loud noise really'. True story.
Seat: A4, Lower slips, £9; View: ***; Sound: *****
NEXT OPERA: LA SONNAMBULA