Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Flying Dutchman @ Seoul Art Center


Wunderbar and Sehnsucht. Two German words that perfectly summed up my first experience in a German-language opera (or any opera performance, for that matter). My wonderful experience watching the Flying Dutchman by Richard Wagner begun even before the performance started. From the moment I stepped into the opera house in the Seoul Arts Center, the feeling felt epic. I felt I was taken into a sacred world where the best and musically gifted people were invited to perform. And though I am a complete newbie in the world of theater, arts and opera (I don't think watching the Phantom of the Opera movie counts), I felt I had been given the privilege to experience the magnificence of it all.    

Simply put, the cast and music were amazing. Impressively orchestrated for almost 3 hours without intermission, the performance seemed out of this world. The solos and duets were just wonderful to behold. There is a huge difference seeing and hearing the performances live on stage than a cinema. And the story told out in an opera performance perfectly evoked the emotions and tensions the characters were feeling, something that hardly any Hollywood movie could ever do. The Dutchman's tragic tale of finding redemption and hope through the love of Senta, could indeed only be brought fully alive by the magic of opera. 

Yet it also left me with a tinge of "incurable longing" or Sehnsucht. Perhaps more of an observation, than a dramatic feeling, I thought of what "entertainment" was like during the long past history or more specifically in 1843 when the Flying Dutchman first premiered. Sitting in the opera house, I longed for the creative efforts and talent it took to compose and produce such an artistic piece. How long and how much industry it took for Richard Wagner to prepare an opera, and without Google and Microsoft Word! Nowadays, it seems movies, some good, some bad, go mostly rushed and without much thought (sorry Spectre, it seemed like you didn't know what to do with the villain, especially at the end). Maybe I'm complaining too much, but when I watched  Richard Wagner's opera, I felt what perhaps the Dutchman felt when he met Senta for the first time, Wunderbar and Sehnsucht.

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