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The ‘Other’ Flying Dutchman

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Saturday 26 Jul 2014
3:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Queensland Multicultural Centre

President: Graham Bruce

President: Graham Bruce

Graham Bruce retired some years ago as Head of Media Studies in the School of Media and Journalism at Queensland University of Technology. He has an MA and Ph D from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He is the author of Bernard Herrmann: Film Music and Narrative, and “Alma Brasileira: Music in the Films of Glauber Rocha”, in Brazilian Cinema.

From the mid-seventies, he has made seven visits to Bayreuth beginning with the premiere of the Chéreau Ring in 1976 and has so far clocked up 28 Ring performances throughout the world. He is particularly interested in stage production, something fostered by his participation in a theatrical group producing musicals in the late fifties and sixties. He is currently the president of the Wagner Society in Queensland.

Two composers, two phantom ships – synopsis:

Fleeing his debtors and the intrigues at the Riga Opera, Richard Wagner arrived in Paris confident of finding success with his as yet unfinished opera Rienzi. He soon became disillusioned and, to ease his financial worries, sold a detailed outline in French for a new opera on the legend of the Flying Dutchman to the Paris opera.

The Opera Intendant arranged for others to write a libretto, Le Vaisseau Fantôme (The Phantom Ship), which was then given to French conductor and composer, Pierre-Louis Dietsch, to complete the score. Meanwhile, Wagner wrote his own libretto and began working on his own score, Der Fliegende Holländer.

Dietsch’s opera received eleven performances at the Paris opera, but then disappeared from the repertoire, most likely because of the poverty of the staging rather than any weaknesses in the music. Recently a new scholarly edition of the score was produced followed by a first recording which appeared this year. This new recording will provide the extensive excerpts that will illustrate Graham’s talk, revealing the fascinating differences between Wagner’s and Dietsch’s operas. The talk will also discuss the circumstances behind the making of the libretto, the critical reception of this French opera and Dietsch’s life as composer and musician.