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Wagner, R. (1813-1883)

Der fliegende Hollander

The Flying Dutchman

Composed 1840-1841; revised 1842, 1846, 1852, 1860.
First performed January 2, 1843.
Libretto by the composer (in German).

A Summary of gDer fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman)h

Act 1
Once upon a time, when a Dutch sea captain got caught in a punishing storm, he boasted that it is easily possible for him to sail to safety. So, he was cursed, he was never allowed to die, and he eternally had to go on sailing in the seas. He is allowed to make a landing once every seven years. He must see a woman who pledges eternal love to him to break the curse.
In the 18th century, along the Norwegian coast, the Dutchmanfs ship encounters a Norwegian ship. The Dutchman hears from the Norwegian sea captain, Daland, about his daughter. The Dutchman proposes to Dalandfs daughter. Daland looks at a lot of treasures in the Dutchmanfs ship, he readily agrees with the Dutchmanfs proposition.

Act 2
The legend of the Dutchmanfs ship is well-known among Norwegian people. Daland's daughter, Senta, believes that she is the very woman to break the Dutchmanfs curse. Her father brings the Dutchman, and he recommends she marry him. Senta is pleased to become the woman who pledges eternal love.

Act 3
However, she already has a fiance, Erik, who is a huntsman. He blames her for betraying him. Then, there is a man who over hears the talk between Senta and Erik. He is the Dutchman. The Dutchman gives up all hope, and he think that the woman who pledges eternal love never exists. The Dutchman leaves the Norwegian coast, again. Senta sees the Dutchmanfs ship far away. Then, she throws herself into the sea, at the same time the Dutchmanfs soul also is saved. Sentafs death brings about the Dutchmanfs salvation.

A Comment on gDer fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman)h

After Richard Wagner composed three study operas, for example gRienzi,h he composed 10 grand operas. All 10 operas are masterpieces, that is, Wagner is a great master of opera composition. This opera, gDer fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman),h was his first opera, when he was only 28 years old.

This opera was composed by Wagner in the first half of his career, so he uses easier composition technique than the second half of his career. I would like to recommend beginners to Wagnerfs operas watch this opera first. There are some wonderful arias, duets, and choruses in this opera. And, you can become accustomed to his more difficult methods in his later operas, for example gLeitmotiv.h

I recommend you pay particular attention to the title role, the Dutchman. The success of this opera performance is affected by the Baritone, who plays the Dutchman. At the beginning of act 1, there is a long monologue by the Dutchman. He sings his own cursed fates. Wagnerfs life is consumed by opera, that is, I think that the Dutchmanfs monologue symblizes the beginning of Wagnerfs opera life.

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