Poems, songs, and stories about the eerie, cursed Dutchman have sent shivers up spines for centuries. The legend is one of the most iconic maritime tales, and one of the most adapted. But no take on the grim sailor’s search for love and redemption is more epic than Wagner’s, and nothing is better than seeing the grand tale in the hands of an inspired veteran stage director.
Connecting with stories and people is at the heart of everything that Brian Deedrick does. The former Artistic Director of Edmonton Opera now freelances in theatre and opera around the world, with over 100 productions to his credit, including Turandot and Aida for VO. When not helming monumental productions, his storytelling takes a decidedly more pedestrian form: Brian shares stories of history and culture as a tour guide in the great city of Berlin! We recently chatted with Brian about his approach to this production of The Flying Dutchman.
VO: What’s your vision for The Flying Dutchman?
Brian: This production isn’t traditional, but it’s not a concept design either. My primary goal is to remain faithful to The Flying Dutchman while telling a great story filled with fantastic music and magical characters.
VO: Is it a new production?
Brian: Yes! A dazzling new production. I have done Dutchman twice before, in Baltimore and Edmonton, and this will be something very different. It has been exciting these past few months to find something different with the presentation of this production and not simply directing it by traditional route.
VO: What excites you about this production?
Brian: I am quite excited for the projections and video design. From conception to presentation, it’s been a fascinating creative process.
VO: Can you tell us about the design elements and how they align with your directorial vision?
Brian: The Flying Dutchman is far more of a horror story than a romance. The music and overture have been played so often that everybody will recognize some of the music from this production. It’s about ghosts and magic; trothing your love to infinity. It isn’t quite a happily ever after, but following hundreds of years at sea, the Dutchman is given a chance to make amends and finally rest.
VO: What drew you towards directing Wagner? Is it the epic music, sweeping story or something else?
Brian: I’ve always adored Wagner. Dutchman is my favourite Wagner opera because of how much happens in a relatively short running time. Even with an intermission it is well under 3 hours.
VO: What draws you to Wagner’s music?
Brian: For me, it’s the concept of the leitmotif that he created. Also, the roiling passion of Wagner—which is especially fitting in a production that involves the seas. Wagner has long stretches of bold music…and then like a wave it crashes into something else! A hypnotic quality in other operas, but in this show it’s an intense, exciting quality.
VO: Would new opera-goers enjoy this production?
Brian: I think this is the best opera for the first-time opera goer because it’s filled with magic, ghosts and love, told with big pictures and big stories. Perfect for today’s audiences who are looking to be totally immersed in something. And don’t be put off by the idea that all operas are hours and hours long; this show isn’t one of those, and it is filled with ear candy and eye candy wrapped in an epic story—it’s like going on a thrilling adventure!
Come share in that thrilling adventure! The Flying Dutchman opens April 29, with additional performances on Thursday, May 4 and Sunday, May 7 (matinee).