The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Hollander)

 The inspiration for ‘The Flying Dutchman’ came after Wagner made a stormy sea crossing in the summer of 1839. The dark romantic opera, which premiered in 1843, contains many of the musical features that characterise Wagner’s later works, for example, leitmotifs (leading motifs), the continuity of the orchestra, and the libretto, a romantic poem...

 The inspiration for ‘The Flying Dutchman’ came after Wagner made a stormy sea crossing in the summer of 1839. The dark romantic opera, which premiered in 1843, contains many of the musical features that characterise Wagner’s later works, for example, leitmotifs (leading motifs), the continuity of the orchestra, and the libretto, a romantic poem about nature, mystery, and idealised love. Redemption through love is a familiar, almost over-used theme. But in this opera, it is re-worked through sinister motifs of Satan, the undead, and everlasting life. Captain Daland finds himself and his crew caught in a terrible storm, out of which emerges a phantom ship, whose captain, the Flying Dutchman, is cursed to sail the seas for all eternity. He is permitted to dock once every seven years in search of a woman who will love him faithfully forever in order to break the curse. He offers Daland many riches in return for his unmarried daughter, Senta, who herself is obsessed with the legend of the Flying Dutchman and longs to be the one to set him free. She agrees immediately to marry the cursed captain. But, overhearing her other suitor, Erik, declaring his love, the Flying Dutchman fears Senta is unfaithful and calls off the union. What follows is a destructive declaration of true love, accumulating in an emotional climax that won’t soon be forgotten.

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