Der fliegende Holländer - Royal Opera House, 10 March 2009 (final performance)
Is that a smile of pleasure or relief on Bryn Terfel's face? Whatever, his final performance was a considerable improvement vocally on the opening night - my assumption that he wasn't in perfect health then was perhaps right. He was sometimes underpowered, but the full range of colour had returned. His duet with Anja Kampe and the big final scene were the two high points of the night, but it's a pity this production demanded such an anonymous characterisation from a great actor who is capable of so much more.
The production remains as dreary as a wet weekend in Hull, but, curiously, looked a lot better from the right hand side of the auditorium than it had from the left. Something to do with the lighting perhaps? The noisy water effects and the party scene shouting were intrusive though - why bother with providing crude and unnecessary sound effects when all the detail is there in the score?
I found Marc Albrecht's opening night account fragmentary and unconvincing, flaunting the weaknesses in Wagner's patchwork scoring more obviously than the strengths. But clearly time had enabled him to join up some of the dots. The extended pauses and abrupt gear shifts were gone, replaced with neat seams that framed and reflected the episodic character of the score without butchering it at the joints. It was not the orchestra's finest night though, and he was let down more than once by shoddy ensemble.
A mini water fight at the curtain call proved the cast had retained their sense of humour, but I suspect Bryn may have a more personally rewarding experience with his forthcoming dates in Peter Konwitschny's Munich production. Real ships!