Jan Philipp Gloger:"It's (The Dutchman) a love with utopian elements..."

Written By The Wagnerian on Friday, 27 July 2012 | 8:01:00 pm

DW's  Hans Christoph von Bock talks to Bayreuth's latest director

Jan Philipp Gloger made his Bayreuth Festival debut with the premiere of his production of "The Flying Dutchman." He translates Wagner's tale of a cursed seafarer and a redemption-seeking woman in a modern way.

"The Flying Dutchman" is the first Wagner work you've staged - and you're doing so at the Green Hill. How did you receive the contract?

Out of the blue I was called and asked. My jaw dropped, of course, and I requested some time to think - my third opera production and straight to Bayreuth! So I spent two weeks examining the piece, had conversations with the festival's leadership about what they liked about me and my work, and then I accepted.

The plot of "The Flying Dutchman" is quite banal. The Dutchman has never seen Senta and wants to marry her; she has only seen a picture of him and immediately promises her loyalty. What did you find interesting in it?

I don't find the story banal at all. It's a very peculiar love story. Other than that, the two worlds from which Senta and the Dutchman come were interesting to me. He is always travelling and in motion - damned to restlessness and not having a home. I see a connection there to our lives today, in which more and more flexibility and mobility are demanded. In this restlessness, there is an immense desire for rest "from the storms of life," as Wagner formulated the general essence of the Dutchman.

Senta, on the other hand, suffers in the world she inhabits: a spinning room owned by her father Daland. There's a motto there that her nanny repeats: "My dear child, if you don't keep spinning, there'll be no present for you." Senta is bound by the rules of profitability and economics that extend all the way into her personal relationships.

Gloger's production sees Senta's spinning room turned into a factory

They are two people who come from worlds in which their dealings with feelings and love have been thoroughly "economized." And both end up trying to escape those worlds together. It's a love with utopian elements that is bound up with the attempt to lead a better life. It's an attempt that becomes a big project. It may fail or may succeed, and it may only partially come to pass or play out in imaginary spheres. And that's what you find out at the end of the production.

You are the newcomer in Bayreuth, but you have an experienced partner in the orchestra pit. Have you been able to profit from conductor Christian Thielemann's expertise?

Yes, he is an unbelievably good partner. He was often there for stage rehearsals, and that was my request. He gives the singers a feeling of security, but his presence also creates a remarkable tension. He is someone who has very precise musical ideas, but there were always conversations about how they could be realized. Even if neither of us are the kind of people who are especially amenable to compromise, we know that we have to talk about things sometimes.

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