The Flying Dutchman ran aground. This SF Opera production did not take off, at least it did not fall off a cliff. Wait, that's what it was supposed to do! Spoiler alert: the final climax involves Senta jumping off a ledge. But it was staged on a teak deck lapped by projected waves with no sense of distance nor perspective: the leap into the abyss looked as lethal as a cannonball into the pool. The production, jointly with the Opera de Wallonie in Liege, was problematic enough that SF Opera general director David Gockley sent the intended director, Petrika Ionesco, packing a week ago due to artistic differences. A statement from Gockley mentions eliminating the use of many supernumeraries, simplifying the staging and providing greater clarity.

But if Ionesco's staging was confused, the final production is inert. It's mostly a big wide empty platform, with giant screens on all side to represent the sea, the snow, a storm, etc. But if you live by the video, you die by the video, as when someone forgot to un-pause the ocean's film at the first raised curtain. On the bare stage, the singers were left to busy themselves by doing dance moves that felt gratuitous and hammy. The ghost chorus was sung from the balcony above, but supernumeraries on stage were doing a zombie walk, and we're not even making this up.