The flying Dutchman has been condemned to sail the oceans of the earth until doomsday. His only chance for rest is to find a woman who will be faithful to him until death.
The Flying Dutchman has been doomed to an eternity of wandering the seas. Once every seven years, he is able to leave the ship to search for a woman whose perfect love will redeem him. This time, when his seven years are up, he lands just outside a Norwegian village.
He meets a man named Daland and, after giving him gold and jewels in exchange for a night’s lodging, he learns that Daland has a daughter. Could she be the perfect love that will relieve him of his plight? The Dutchman’s search has begun again; will this finally be the end of his misery?
"The Flying Dutchman"
Opera in 3 acts
Sung in German
About 2 hours 15 min + intervals
On the coast of Norway
On his homeward journey, the sea captain Daland is compelled by stormy weather to seek a port of refuge near Sandwike in southern Norway. He leaves the helmsman on watch and he and the sailors retire. (Song of the helmsman: "Mit Gewitter und Sturm aus fernem Meer" — "With tempest and storm on distant seas.") The helmsman falls asleep. A ghostly vessel appearing astern is dashed against Daland's vessel by the sea and the grappling irons hold the two ships together. Invisible hands furl the sails. A man of pale aspect, dressed in black, his face framed by a thick black beard, steps ashore. He laments his fate. (Aria: "Die Frist ist um, und abermals verstrichen sind sieben Jahr" — "The time has come and seven years have again elapsed") Because he once invoked Satan, the ghost captain is cursed to roam the sea forever without rest. An angel brought to him the terms of his redemption: Every seven years the waves will cast him upon the shore; if he can find a wife who will be true to him he will be released from his curse.
Daland wakes up and meets the stranger. The stranger hears that Daland has an unmarried daughter named Senta, and he asks for her hand in marriage, offering a chest of treasure as a gift. Tempted by gold, Daland agrees to the marriage. The southwind blows and both vessels set sail for Daland's home.
A group of local girls are singing and spinning in Daland's house. (Spinning chorus: "Summ und brumm, du gutes Rädchen" — "Whir and whirl, good wheel") Senta, Daland's daughter, dreamily gazes upon a gorgeous picture of the legendary Dutchman that hangs from the wall; she desires to save him. Against the will of her nurse, she sings to her friends the story of the Dutchman (Ballad with the Leitmotiv), how Satan heard him swear and took him at his word. She vows to save him by her fidelity.
The huntsman Erik, Senta's former boyfriend, arrives and hears her; the girls depart, and the huntsman, who loves the maiden, warns her, telling her of his dream, in which Daland returned with a mysterious stranger, who carried her off to sea. She listens with delight, and Erik leaves in despair.
Daland arrives with the stranger; he and Senta stand gazing at each other in silence. Daland is scarcely noticed by his daughter, even when he presents his guest as her betrothed. In the following duet, which closes the act, Senta swears to be faithful unto death.
Later in the evening, the local girls bring Daland's men food and drink. They invite the crew of the strange vessel to join in the merry-making, but in vain. The girls retire in wonder; ghostly forms appear at work upon the vessel The Flying Dutchman, and Daland's men retreat in fear.
Senta arrives, followed by Erik, who reproves her for deserting him, as she had formerly loved him and vowed constancy. When the stranger, who has been listening, hears these words, he is overwhelmed with despair, as he thinks he is now forever lost. He summons his men, tells Senta of the curse, and to the consternation of Daland and his crew declares that he is the "Flying Dutchman".
As the Dutchman sets sail, Senta throws herself into the sea, claiming that she will be faithful to him unto death. This is his salvation. The spectral ship disappears, and Senta and the Dutchman are seen ascending to heaven.
The Dutchman – Bass-baritone (dramatic)
A man destined to sail the seas forever
Senta – Soprano (dramatic)
Daland – Bass (lyric)
A Norwegian sea captain
Erik – Tenor (Helden/dramatic)
Mary – Contralto
Daland's steersman – Tenor (lyric)
Place of birth: Leipzig, Germany
Place of death: Venice, Italy
Richard Wagner was a 19th century German composer, theatre director, conductor and librettist. His writing period spans over more than 50 years. He is most known for his operas, what he called, "music dramas". Particularly in his later operas he made use of "Leitmotifs" (leading motifs), musical phrases connected to a role character, a place or an idea. He also describes the music dramas as "Gesamtkunstwerk" (total work of art). This idea revolutionised opera. By combining poetic, visual, musical and dramatic arts the story could unfold with the music supporting the drama.
Wagner's hostile writings expressing antisemitic views have been widely commented. Hitler was an admirer of his music and there are continuous debates about the extent to which Wagner's views might have influenced Nazi thinking.
Wagner married Wilhelmine "Minna" Planer in 1836. Their tumultuous marriage would last until Minna's death in 1866, although their relationship ended much earlier. In 1852 Wagner became infatuated with the poet-writer Mathilde Wesendonck. He would set five of her verses to music, the Wesendonck Lieder. In 1863 Wagner met Cosima von Bülow, the wife of Hans von Bülow and daughter of Franz Liszt. They had an affair that would lead to a marriage that would last until Wagner's death. They married in 1870 and had three children.
Wagner's legacy to the world of opera is of considerable scope, although controversial.
"Imagination creates reality."
Wagner built his own opera house, the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, specifically to house his own works during the annual festival, the Bayreuth Festival. Today audiences travel from all over the world to visit the summer festival. The orchestra pit is designed so that it doesn't draw any attention from the stage, with the orchestra members hidden under the stage, invisible to the audience.
Most prominent operas
Der fliegende Holländer 1843
Tristan und Isolde 1865
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg 1868
Das Rheingold 1869
Die Walküre 1870
The plot to Der fliegende Holländer is based on a sketch by Heinrich Heine. Apparently Wagner was inspired to write the opera during a stormy sea passage to London.
Wagner wrote the libretto for all of his operas and referred to the texts as "poems".
2+1, 2+1, 2, 2 - 4, 2, 3, 1
timp, harp, strings
Wagner's most performed opera, Der fliegende Holländer, premiered at the Königliches Hoftheater in Dresden in 1843. Wagner conducted the performance.
Today it is one of the top 30 most performed operas worldwide.
Aria - Die Frist ist um... Wie oft in Meeres tiefsten Schlund (The Dutchman)
Aria - Johohoe! Traft ihr das Schiff - Senta's ballad (Senta)
Aria – Mögst du, mein Kind, den fremden Mann wilkommen heißen (Daland)
Steuermann, laß die Wacht (Choir)