Eric Owens is the Dutchman at Washington National Opera

The Flying Dutchman 1 - photo by Scott Suchman.jpg
Eric Owens (Scott Suchman/WNO)

Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer
Washington National Opera
Kennedy Center Opera House

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the midst of a brutal winter of arctic blasts and punishing snow, D.C. operagoers counted themselves lucky that the only storms on March 7 were those onstage at the Kennedy Center, on opening night of the Washington National Opera’s The Flying Dutchman. In truth, the storms conjured by British director Stephen Lawless’s tepid and lifeless production paled by comparison with Mother Nature’s, but the cast and orchestra rose above thecircumstances to deliver a fine performance, led by Eric Owens in his compelling stage debut in the title role.

Owens‘s forceful performances as Alberich in recent Ring cycles at the Met Opera held out promise for future, more substantial Wagnerian roles—a promise mostly fulfilled on this occasion. (He has sung the role before but only in concert.) In his transfixing opening monologue, Owens sang with echt Wagnerian power counterbalanced by lyrical sensitivity, bringing subtle emotional shadings to his characterization of the Dutchman‘s eternal weariness and torment. He brought a dark-bass foundation to his singing, which he contrasted with insightful word painting. Owens did appear taxed by the role’s almost impossible demands on vocal stamina, audibly conserving his energy in the second act and undercutting the power of the central duet. Yet he held enough in reserve to deliver his final, climactic moments with stentorian authority…

Read the full review at Musical America (paywalled).

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