3 juni 2010
50 – Der fliegende Holländer by Richard Wagner
Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) is an opera, with music and libretto by Richard Wagner.
The action takes place on the coast of Norway.
On his homeward journey, the sea-captain Daland is compelled by stormy weather to seek a port of refuge. He leaves the helmsman on watch and he and the sailors retire. The helmsman falls asleep. A ghostly vessel appearing astern is dashed against Daland’s vessel by the sea and the grappling irons hold the two ships together. Invisible hands furl the sails. A man of pale aspect, dressed in black, his face framed by a thick black beard, steps ashore. He laments his fate. Having broken his troth, the ghost captain is cursed to roam the sea forever without rest. An angel brought to him the terms of his redemption: at the end of every seven years the angry waves cast him upon the shore; if he can find a wife who will be true to him he will be released.
Daland meets the captain. The ghost offers him treasure, and when he hears that Daland has an unmarried daughter named Senta, he asks for her as his wife. Tempted by gold, Daland consents, and favoured by the south wind joyfully acclaimed by Daland’s men, both vessels set sail.
A group of local girls are singing and spinning in Daland’s house. Senta, Daland’s daughter, dreamily gazes upon a gorgeous picture of the Flying Dutchman that hangs from the wall; she desires to save him. Against the will of her nurse, she sings to her friends the story of the Dutchman, how Satan heard him swear and took him at his word, she declares she will save him by her fidelity.
The huntsman Erik, Senta’s former boyfriend, arrives and hears her; the girls depart, and the huntsman, who loves the maiden, warns her, telling her of his dream, in which Daland returned with a mysterious stranger, who carried her off to sea. She listens with delight, and Erik leaves her in despair.
Daland arrives with the stranger; he and Senta stand gazing at each other in silence. Daland is scarcely noticed by his daughter, even when he presents his guest as her betrothed. In the following duet, which closes the act, Senta swears to be true till death.
Later in the evening, the local girls bring Daland’s men food and drink. They invite the crew of the strange vessel to join in the merry-making, but in vain. The girls retire in wonder; ghostly forms appear at work upon the vessel of the Flying Dutchman, and Daland’s men retreat in fear.
Senta arrives, followed by Erik, who reproves her for her desertion, as she had formerly loved him and vowed constancy. When the stranger, who has been listening, hears these words, he is overwhelmed with despair, as he thinks he is now forever lost. He summons his men, tells Senta of the curse, and to the consternation of Daland and his crew declares that he is the ”Flying Dutchman.”
Hardly has the Dutchman left the shore, when Senta arrives and throws herself into the sea, claiming that she will be faithful to him unto death. This is his salvation. The spectral ship disappears, and Senta and the Dutchman are seen ascending to heaven.
The Dutchman – Bass-baritone
Senta – soprano
Daland, a sailor – bass
Erik, a hunter – tenor
Mary, Senta’s nurse – contralto
Daland’s steerman – tenor
Der Holländer is usually quoted as the opera where Wagner first so to say is really Wagner. A lot of the things he would use later on can be found here: a bass-baritone in the lead role, the use of leitmotifs, the story about redemption through love, and having the female lead die in the end just to save the male lead. You will recognize those elements in the other Wagner works on this list. Wagner also started to experiment with new forms of opera, for example eventhough the synopsis is in three acts, he wanted the opera to be performed without any intermissions, just being a flow of music instead. The music itself is very powerful one of the most famous arias for a bass-baritone is the Holländer’s aria ”die Frist ist um” it’s too long to find the whole aria in a youtube clip, but here is a version with part 1 and part 2. Senta is also one of the roles for a skilled dramatic soprano, here is the final sung by Nina Stemme.