Saturday 21 Feb 2015
3:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Queensland Multicultural Centre
Herz’s film Der Fliegende Holländer: ein film nach Wagner was made for DEFA, East Germany’s state film company in 1964. Herz had worked with Walter Felsenstein, champion of realist music theatre, at Berlin’s Komische Oper, and it was there that he staged his first production of Der Fliegende Holländer. The success of this and subsequent productions in Leipzig and Moscow, led Herz to contemplate making a film of the opera. He decided, however, not simply to record a stage production, but to create a proper film using the complete range of cinematic devices available to him.
Actors rather than singers were seen on screen, miming to the sound track. Thanks to the excellent synchronization, this worked well. The music was pre-recorded by the famous Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the chorus of the Leipzig opera under the direction of Rolf Reuter, together with an excellent cast of East German singers. Four-chanel stereophonic sound was used in the recording, possibly for the first time in Europe. The advantage, of course, of using pre-recorded sound was the freedom this allowed in terms of actor movement, camera placement and editing. This can be seen particularly in thebrilliant filming of the scenes involving the chorus.
Despite its fame as the first more or less complete Wagner opera on film, it is only recently that this ground-breaking black and white film was transferred to DVD. The copy we will screen was acquired from a German source as the DVD does not yet seem to be available outside Germany. The film will be preceded by a brief introduction by Graham Bruce, who will also lead a discussion at the end of the screening.