During the overture an old man chases an elusive park bench, epitomizing, one would guess, the Dutchman’s quest for an elusive pure-of-heart sweetie.
A child fashions dolls and ship models that mirror elements in George Tzypin’s massive set. Dress dummies do a ballet to Daniel Ezralow’s jolly choreography during the “Spinning Chorus,” possibly mirroring the music’s need for all the visual help it can get.
Assuredly, there is space within the barren stretches of the “Dutchman” for some extraneous stage shenanigans, and some of Taymor’s inventions fill the gaps nicely: flying ghostly figures, a neat dance for the Dutchman’s spooky crew.
Since the musical performance is not exactly deluxe, some of the diversions help to pass the time. Franz Grundheber, as the sea dog of the title, sang on opening night with as much bark as bite.
Ealynn Voss floated some beautiful tones during the agonizingly long “Senta’s Ballad,” but seemed to tire toward the end. Only Louis Lebherz’s gruff, hearty Daland completely honored the music’s demands, but those demands — in what has to be one of the most boring roles in all opera — are slim.
Tzypin’s set pieces, a tricky, break-apart ship skeleton that serves both as Daland’s vessel and his cottage, and a dilapidated canoe for the Dutchman’s ship , tend on occasion to overpower the action; they also necessitated an intermission to accommodate set changes, violating Wagner’s demand for a nonstop perf.
Israeli conductor Asher Fisch, still denied the right to conduct Wagner in his homeland, did so here with acceptable competence but little more.