The flying dutchman

By Stephen Pollard, May 3, 2012

English National Opera, London WC2

See it: The Flying Dutchman

See it: The Flying Dutchman

There is one reason to see this new production of Flying Dutchman. And it is a compelling reason which makes me urge you to see it.

Edward Gardner, ENO's music director, conducts his first Wagner. And he does not just make a decent stab at it - he produces some of the greatest Wagner conducting you could ever hear.

The ENO orchestra - which plays as if the Berlin Philharmonic is just some hick regional band - is sensational. Gardner's interpretation is white hot from the start. There is a visceral thrill on the overture which does not let up for a second until the end of the opera - aided by the welcome decision to run the three acts together without an interval.

All I can really say is, wow!

As for the singing: Stuart Skelton's Erik is world-class, and Orla Boylan's Senta draws you in (despite being made to wear perversely drab clothes).

The production itself is interesting, with clever use of video to recreate the storm, and a disturbing party scene which is - properly - unsettling.

But there is a big hole dramatically, which is James Creswell's Dutchman. Every note is well pitched, but there is nothing there. He is more like a ledger clerk than an accursed sailor. Very forgettable.

But what is entirely memorable is Gardner's revelatory conducting. Go. (Tel: 0871 911 0200)

Last updated: 6:32pm, May 3 2012