For a man who memorably flooded the stage with blood for his thought-provoking Parsifalback in 2013, François Girard’s new production of Der Fliegende Holländer, which opened at the Metropolitan Opera on March 2, is a surprisingly tame affair. There is a concept here, according to interviews with the director and marketing materials, but if no one told you what it was, you might easily mistake it for any one of the dozens of conventional interpretations to have graced the stage over the last fifty years. Add to that a frustratingly hit-and-miss reading of the score by an at times passionless Valery Gergiev and it’s a clear case of missed opportunities.

David Portillo as the Steersman and Evgeny Nikitin as the Dutchman. Photo © Ken Howard : Met Opera

Girard’s “concept” involves turning the Met stage into what is meant to be a giant oil painting, an attempt to reflect the portrait of the doomed Dutchman with which Senta is apparently obsessed. You can just about see that, especially at the end when the tumultuous sea sweeping over the barren forestage could equally be...

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