Der fliegende Holländer, Opera by R. Wagner
From the brilliant mind of German composer Richard Wagner comes Der fliegende Holländer, a reboot of his musical career that bears the trademarks of his compositional style. Leitmotifs, powerful instrumentation and an epic storyline that has its origin in Northern European myth proved to be a turning point in Wagner’s creative path indeed. Retaining complete creative control, the composer also wrote the opera’s libretto. The final product is a stage work of remarkable depth that befits the storied venue of the Volksoper in Vienna.
Der fliegende Holländer, or The Flying Dutchman, finds its origins in an old sailor legend about a ghost ship that is cursed to drift endlessly, coming ashore only once every seven years. Its captain, the Dutchman, can break the curse only through the selfless love of a woman who would be faithful to him till the end. On one of these fateful nights, the Dutchman pulls into a port in southern Norway next to the ship of Captain Daland. Thanks to the chance meeting, he arranges for Daland’s daughter, Senta, to marry him and break the curse. When the two meet, they immediately feel a spark, but will that be enough to break the spell and to deter Senta’s former suitor Erik from interfering? A dramatic clash brews.
The premiere of Der fliegende Holländer took place at Dresden’s Königliches Hoftheater on 2 January 1843 where it was performed without intermissions – another touch of innovation. Wagner himself served as conductor. As he predicted, this opera marks the beginning of the composer’s mature period and sets the stage for the rest of his monumental works. Thanks to the success of The Flying Dutchman, Wagner fully embraced his break with operatic convention and carved out his special place in the musical pantheon. In this way, the performance at Volksoper Wien provides a unique peek into the birth of a classical legend of epic proportions.