A stormy sea crossing when fleeing from Riga to London is supposed to have inspired Richard Wagner to set the saga of the Flying Dutchman to music, which he had shortly before read in Heine’s »Memoirs of Herr Schnabelewopski«. In so doing he was bowing to the contemporary taste for operas with a supernatural theme.
The Dutchman is cursed to roam the seas with his crew for the rest of eternity; a fate from which only a woman’s true love has the power to release him. Every seven years he is permitted to seek out his female saviour on land. Senta, whom he wishes to marry, feels it her destiny to save him. However, when the Dutchman learns of another younger rival for her hand, he has misgivings about Senta’s fidelity and turns his back on her. The young woman, broken-hearted, swears her undying love before casting herself into the sea; and when the Dutchman, together with his ship, accompanies her into the watery depths, the curse is finally broken.
With its focus on Senta’s inner life, and her act of selfless redemption, the »Flying Dutchman« occupies a unique place in Wagner’s operatic oeuvre. The work was premiered in Dresden’s Court Theatre in 1843.
Romantic opera in three acts by Richard Wagner
Running time 2 hours 15 minutes
Premiere 15 Jun 2013