TARPON SPRINGS – A ghostly schooner is set to drop anchor this weekend as the New Century Opera debuts Richard Wagner's The Flying Dutchman at the Tarpon Springs Performing Arts Center.
"It's never been performed before in the Tampa Bay area," said director and pianist Constantine Grame. "Sarasota Opera is performing it now."
The opera, written in 1843, runs Friday through Sunday. Tickets are $24 or $20 for members and students.
The seafaring legend tells the story of a ghostly sea captain, the Flying Dutchman, who is condemned by Satan to roam the seas forever. But once every seven years, he is allowed to come ashore and attempt to rid himself of the curse by finding a bride.
It is Senta, daughter of a Norwegian sea captain, who offers him true love. Erik, her jealous huntsman suitor, is just one of many obstacles to stand in their way.
The title role is played by Colman Reaboi, a 45-year-old cantor and spiritual leader at the Tarpon Springs synagogue, Congregation B'nai Emmunah.
This is Reaboi's inaugural role with New Century Opera, he said. The bass-baritone was first introduced to Tarpon Springs Performing Arts audiences last summer when he played the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof.
"The role of the Dutchman is much more demanding vocally," he said. "And unlike Tevye — essentially a lively, dancing milkman — this role is filled with anguish. It's just so dark."
Senta is portrayed by New Century Opera veteran Michelle Sund, a gifted soprano who hits — and carries — a perfectly pitched high B.
She prefers operas to musicals, she said, except for one sticking point.
"I tend to die in nearly every role I'm in," she said. "I've been poisoned, had a heart attack, and died in a ring of fire."
Her final fate is revealed in the last scene of this production.
The opera is sung in English.
"Some people think opera is always convoluted and hard to figure out," said Grame. "In this opera, the story is really engaging and exciting without being overly complex. Audiences can sit back, get into the music and enjoy the story.
"It is, however, very challenging for the performers. Everyone, principals and chorus alike, has brought their A game to this exciting work."