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The Flying Dutchman docks at the Lyon Opera House


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The Flying Dutchman docks at the Lyon Opera House

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‘The Flying Dutchman’ by Wagner has docked for a few days at the Lyon Opera in south-east France.

It is being staged by La Fura dels Baus, a Spanish theatrical group known for their urban theatre and the company has given a new twist to classical Wagner.

The libretto is based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman. In 1839, Richard Wagner sailed from Riga to Paris and survived a tumultuous storm. The boat journey was the inspitation for his work.

“This is a fantastic item that is linked to the drama of the piece, which in turn is linked to romance. But I wanted to give this a contemporary feel and bring it into the present day,” explained Alex Olle, the artistic director.

He set the action in the port of Chittagong in Bangladesh – one of the most polluted places in the world which is known as Hell on Earth. The Flying Dutchman is now stranded in a dried up sea.

“With this music we have created a very powerful visual world. The prologue, for example is 10 minutes for which we created a quasi virtual space with 3D projections of the boat and sea whose support is the set design itself. These are very striking images. I think it’s very cinematic music. It is a music that allows the viewer to get carried away,” Olle enthused.

In the third act, the voices of the choral masses embody the great themes of this drama: wandering, curse, death and redemption.

“This has been an important moment, an important staging of the opera as it has reached out to a new audience. It is true it was considered a very bourgeois show, for highly educated people. But I believe our staging of the show opens the opera up to new audiences. For example here in the theatre in Lyon the average age of the audience is 40 which is a fairly young age,” remarked Olle.

Kazushi Ono conducts the orchestra. Magdalena Anna Hofmann and Simon Neal play the title roles. 'The Flying Dutchman' is on until October 26 at the Lyon Opera House.

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