“The ghost ship”: in the sublime eye of the storm

As soon as we enter the room, an immense eye, foggy and sad, fixes us. The storm draws and appears through a ballet of moving projections, white lines and spots of light, where Senta, in a red dress, drowns and exults, to the sound of the grand opening of the “Ghost Ship” Wagner.
The large moving picture orchestrated by François Girard is a fascinating object, of great visual poetry, where the images, few, but carefully worked, swallow us. We are in a painting of German romanticism, where the sky and the sea are unleashed. It will be necessary to guess the shape of the ghost ship in the heart of the storm, then to imagine it, while it stands, invisible, on the shore. The immense eye and the hues of red also send us back to the surrealists, where thoughts swing between dream and nightmare.

The marriage of Peter Flaherty’s screenings and Carolyn Choa’s choreographies creates moments that rock and jostle us. The entrance of Daland’s crew (the men’s choir) pulling the huge Norwegian boat over the rocks, the women crossing the ropes during the Chorus of Spinners to create high-rise motifs and party at the harbor, where men and women mix and move like two sea creatures who woo themselves, are good examples. The choir and projections also have a crucial role to play when Senta is swallowed by the sea.

During the Chorus of Spinners, in The Ghost Ship

There seems to have been some missteps when crossing the ropes the night of the first, Sunday, but the overall effect is most striking. When the choristers make the strings wave so that they follow the inflections of their voices, the music materializes with sharp strokes alive in this tableau alive.

The chants of the choir and the performance of the musicians pull us up and reach a depth that gives almost chills. The mixture of happy and spectral inflections of the early 3 an act is a pure delight. At the musical direction, Jacques Lacombe led the orchestra with sensitivity, pressing the highlights without ever pushing the tragic intensity – when it could have poured out happily and swallowing everything.

Johanni van Oostrum, sublime as Senta

Johanni van Oostrum embodies a strong and passionate Senta, a worthy Wagnerian heroine. His game touches us, his emotions reach us and his voice, sublime, flows in luminous rays at each of his appearances. When she sings the Ballade du Hollandais , telling the legend that obsesses her, we only see her. The soprano acts as a real enchantress.

Tenor Éric Laporte, in the role of Erik, the spurned lover, and on the right Allyson McHardy, in the role of the nanny Mary

The bass Andreas Bauer Kanabas is a Daland with a soft voice and playful and limpid play. Tenor Éric Laporte (Erik) puts energy and emotion into his role as a rejected lover. Eric Thériault inspires tenderness as a dreamy pilot, while mezzo Allyson McHardy, as a nurse, sings and plays a very short role.

If we followed attentively the disappointments and despairs of the flying Dutchman, played by Gregory Dahl, we wondered at several moments if it was the role, or the interpreter, that kept us attentive. The baritone has an expressive play, keen eye and is capable of many shades. But here, the obligation to make slow and economical gestures, so that the system of capturing movements since creating its gigantic shadow in the stormy sky in the background of the scene sometimes gave it look starched. Vocally, it seemed more difficult to give life to the lower lines, which remained gray. Compared to the magnetic elegance of the choreography, the sequence where it revolves around Senta, until ending up in a posture which remembers that of the lovers of the film Titanic, detonated a little.

Overall, however, we leave a strong impression. For the staging of moving images, certainly, but also for the themes, the music and the songs, finely declined and developed. Let’s hope it does not take another century before we can see a Wagner opera in Quebec.

The ghost ship is presented again on July 30, August 1 and 3 at 8 pm at the Grand Théâtre de Québec as part of the Quebec Opera Festival Info: festivaloperaquebec.com

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