The Dutchman flies back for Beijing show

On a Norwegian seashore with steep cliffs, a violent storm rages. A giant ship, 12.8 meters long, 5.1 meters tall and 7.5 meters wide, rocks in a massive rogue wave.

style="text-align: left; margin-bottom: 15px;">The scene recently took place in the rehearsal room at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing on March 28, a few days before the staging of Der fliegende Hollander, or The Flying Dutchman, an opera by German composer Richard Wagner.

From Wednesday to Sunday, the opera will be performed for the third time at the NCPA. According to revival director, Stephan Grogler, artists from around the world have been gathered for the production, including conductor Marcus Bosch, bass-baritone Olafur Sigurdarson and baritone Dmitry Ulyanov, as well as tenor Wang Chong and soprano Song Yuanming. The China NCPA Orchestra and the China NCPA Chorus will also perform.

"We have built this ship for the opera, which creates an overwhelming experience for the theater audience. Through visual effects, the ship, the waves and everything on the sea seem real," says stage manager Li Genshi, adding that besides the Norwegian Daland's ship, which is a key component of the opera, there is also the Dutchman's, which as the story conveys, is condemned to sail the oceans of the earth forever until its captain finds a woman prepared to be faithful to him until death. Every seven years the Dutchman is permitted to land for its captain to search for a potential partner. The Dutchman's ship also appears onstage and is larger than the Norwegian ship, being 13.6 meters long and 9 meters wide.

Wagner was inspired to write the libretto and score for The Flying Dutchman after a rough, stormy voyage from Riga to London. It premiered in 1843.

The NCPA first commissioned its version of the opera in 2012 to celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of the great composer, which was in 2013. It was directed by Giancarlo Del Monaco and was the venue's first opera production since its opening in 2007. In 2013, it staged the opera for a second time.

To lend a spooky undertone to the mysterious Dutchman and his equally mysterious ship, set designer William Orlandi has combined lighting, veils and visual effects to put the audience in the right mood.

According to Del Monaco, who came to Beijing in 2012 and 2013 to direct the opera, and whose repertoire extends to more than 100 productions, The Flying Dutchman leaves audiences feeling exhilarated, but not exhausted, with its "great balance of stagecraft and scenery, cast and orchestra, acting and singing".

"When we did the first round of The Flying Dutchman, there were no intermissions, which made changing scenes a challenge," says Li, adding that about 70 people are involved in the process of shifting the scenery from ship to home to harbor. "Now, more than 10 years later, when we stage the opera again, we have improved technology to whip up cosmic wind and storms."

Nearly three hours long, this time there is an intermission, and acrobats will play the role of the sailors, climbing masts in the middle of a storm or during high winds and reefing.