Der fliegende Holländer

Romantic opera in three acts (1843)

Music and Text by

Richard Wagner

Restlessly roaming the world’s oceans, going ashore only once in seven years, living in hope of finding a wife who is faithful for a lifetime, and being disappointed again and again: this is the fate of the Flying Dutchman, who has long been pursued by a curse. But when he meets the Norwegian captain Daland and his daughter Senta, his life blood is revived.

In the spirit of romanticism, the young Richard Wagner shaped the legend of the Flying Dutchman into an opera of bold music and irrepressible force. It is a dark and mysterious tale, the atmosphere of which Wagner captured so succinctly in his striking score. He unleashes forces of nature in the orchestra, while echoing folkloric music in the chorus, and the solo scenes, duets and ensembles are highly expressive. Dream and reality blur; imagination and reality can barely be distinguished. Since the Dresden premiere in 1843, »The Flying Dutchman« has sailed across the opera stages of the world, and has often laid anchor in Berlin. This production by Philipp Stölzl presents Wagner’s work as a colourful pirate story and an adventurous spiritual journey with some surprising twists and turns.




The ship of the Norwegian merchant Daland has gotten caught in a serious storm just before reaching the homeport, and thus drops anchor in a nearby cove. They decide to wait out the storm and sleep for the night, while only the steersman keeps watch. But he, too, falls asleep. In the meantime, a second ship approaches, that of the Flying Dutchman. The Dutchman asks for the hand of Daland’s daughter Senta. Daland, impressed by the riches of the Dutchman, agrees.

Back home, the busy women await the arrival of their husbands. Senta asks Mary to tell her of the Flying Dutchman. Erik, Senta’s betrothed, arrives and reports of the arrival of the ship. Erik urges Senta to ask the father to approve of their marriage. Senta refuses. As a warning, Erik tells her of his dream, where he saw Senta and a mysterious seaman sink together in the ocean. The father then introduces a stranger to Senta, whom she is to marry.

The seamen prepare for the wedding. Erik reminds Senta of their former intimacy and love, and that she once swore to him her constancy, but Senta vigorously denies this. The Dutchman is a witness to this conversation, and no longer believes Senta’s oath of constancy to him. Without giving her a chance to explain, the Dutchman turns to leave. Senta follows him to her death.

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