On Saturday November 4th, the Atlanta Opera opened its 38th season by unveiling a new production of Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”. “The Flying Dutchman,” or “Der Fliegende Hollander,” is the only Wagnerian work that the Atlanta Opera has staged in its thirty eight year history, and as we walked out of the auditorium following Friday night’s performance, your friends at newoutpost could not contain the flood of thoughts that we humbly offer here as the introduction to our write up.
We want to frame what follows by proclaiming that, as residents of this city for the past twenty seven years, we consider the Atlanta Opera our home, and we want to see it grow into the fantastic arts institution we know it can become. This is Atlanta’s third stab at producing Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” in the past 15 years, and already the feeling of dread that the company is unlikely to dig deeper into the Wagnerian repertoire has already begun to set in. Be it due to economic constraints, the operas duration, union restrictions, or whatever the case may be, it is a sad fact that many bets would be lost if the Atlanta Opera were to suddenly stage any other selection from the great composer’s canon. Many quietly fear that the pattern of the past twelve years, the recycling of the standard repertoire sprinkled with odd excursions into esoteric operas to somehow claim variety will continue, and a recent visit to another regional company underlined the impression as being shared by more than just locals. In conversation with a rather cheeky member of the administrative staff who, upon learning our city of origin, smirked and said “Atlanta? I hear they do a lot of Don Giovannis there!” we realized that there was enough truth in the statement to make the burn sizzle.