S. Katy Tucker’s projections work especially well at the opening, as we gaze at turbulent, dreamy abstractions during the overture (it all sets the tone with an appropriately hallucinatory, mythic mood), and at the end, when a huge projection of ocean waves covers the set. The projections are overutilized elsewhere, however, and the first part of Act 1 seems somehow too distant and indistinct because it takes place behind a scrim. I never quite understood the projections of drawings of the Dutchman’s ghostly crew, when the sailors were well-represented by supernumeraries dressed in Climer’s creepy sci-fi costumes with gasmask-like facial gear.
Climer's costume for the Dutchman — part trenchcoated loner, part Bowie Space Oddity — perfectly brings to life an interesting, modern vision of the Dutchman as the ultimate outsider. It's a vision that Wayne Tigges as a grave, pessimistic Dutchman capably embodies with his darkly brooding vocals and strong performance.
Moore and Tigges give the show a captivating, beating heart with a stunning performance of Act 2's crucial love duet. Conductor Arthur Fagen gives forceful drama to the music's juxtaposed moments of full, lush orchestration and dramatic quiet. Moore and Tigges bring to life a cosmic, legendary love, but also give the scene interesting touches of the recognizably human, as Senta takes the daring step of falling in love with a stranger and the isolated Dutchman exposes his vulnerability. Base Kristinn Sigmundsson shines as Senta's greedy, scheming father, and the choral scenes, such as when the factory girls taunt Senta in Act 2 or when carousing sailors open Act 3, likewise pop to life as extraordinarily lucid and detailed. Tenor Jay Hunter Morris, with his heroic tenor, gives a touching edge to the heartbreak of the jilted character Erik.
The production, which next moves on to Cincinnati Opera and Houston Grand Opera, creates a sleek, modern, nuanced take on the classic story of “The Flying Dutchman.” Its various elements allow the performers and musicians to evoke the dramatic, mythic sweep of Wagner, but the new show also allows them to maintain an interesting and moving sort of human scale in the action. It’s ultimately an evocative combination perfectly suited for Wagner’s tale of the clash of the romantic imagination with the brutal realities of everyday life.
The Atlanta Opera’s “The Flying Dutchman”
$35-$131. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7; 8 p.m. Nov. 10; 3 p.m. Nov 12. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 404-881-8885, www.atlantaopera.org.