Friday, 19 April 2013

The Flying Dutchman

Fantasy Bob spent a stimulating evening recently in Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre seeing Scottish Opera’s new production of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman. And very good it was too.

 This production had shifted the action of the opera to a location based on the Blue Toon - Peterhead. Peterhead is well known as a fishing port, and for its prison where many of Scotland's hardest criminals have spent their time at Her Majesty’s pleasure, and for its power station. But it is not reknowned for its cricketing heritage.

FB wondered whether this was the point the Director was trying to convey.  FB's worldwide readership will know the story of the Flying Dutchman – how the central character is cursed to sail the seas until he is redeemed by the unqualified love of a woman. Every seven years he is allowed to come to land in search of redemption. Driven into Peterhead by a storm, he might look  for such redemption in the form of a net, or for a game at the weekend in a lower XI, or even a spell on the boundary just watching a match. He would look in vain.  For there is no cricket in Peterhead.  FB wondered if this might explain some of the agonised outbursts by the characters on stage.

As FB mused on this possibility during the interval he encountered a fellow cricketer in the throng.  FB had not previously taken him for an opera goer and he could tell by the agitated manner in which he approached him that his fellow cricketer was deeply troubled.  There was no time for social pleasantries as FB's acquaintance immediately launched into a breathless diatribe.

'What on earth is all this about, FB?  Fishing boats and harbour sides?  I came here in good faith to hear about the Flying Dutchman, but what has all this wailing got to do with Dirk Nannes?’ 

FB saw immediately that serious counselling was required.  He suggested that his interlocutor took a seat and armed himself with a stiff drink while FB lead him gently towards the truth.

Dirk Nannes, the Australian left arm paceman might well be playing in the IPL for Chennai Super Kings - which would explain why he wasn't in Edinburgh tonight, interjected FB's colleague.  Nannes may well have been nicknamed the Flying Dutchman because of his Dutch origins, which led to him playing for the Netherlands in the 2009 T20 World Cup.  Nannes may well have been part of the team that brought off a surprise victory over England in that tournament. Nannes may well have been the leading wicket-taker at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean in May 2010, with 14 scalps at 13.07. Nannes may well also have had a career as a professional skier before succeeding at cricket and may well now run a ski travel and adventure company.  All these things are true, but they do not make Nannes the subject of an opera by Richard Wagner.

FB's colleague's eyes glazed over.  His breathing became shallow and rapid.  Beads of sweat appeared on his brow.  But still he was reluctant to acknowledge that he may have come in error.  

'There's still the second innings to come, FB.  I'm sure this will tell of how Nannes' only ODI appearance for Australia took place in Edinburgh.  Scotland played Australia in 2009.  Nannes bowled 7 overs and got 1 for 20.  And do you know who is that solitary victim in his ODI career?  None other than the ever popular captain of your go ahead Carlton club Fraggle Watts - bowled by Nannes for 24.  Now if that is not a fit subject for the operatic treatment, what is?'

FB had to agree.  Particularly since Watts invited his own undoing by smacking Nannes for a big 6 - the only 6 he conceded in his ODI career.  Real operatic drama.

For fans of Nannes or Wagner this link will give you the splendid overture to the opera.  It clearly depicts the castling of Watts at 8.23.  Test match Quality. 

Operatic or what?

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