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MUSIC AND LIBRETTO BY RICHARD WAGNER
RICHARD TANG YUK, CONDUCTOR
Richard Wagner: Der fliegende Holländer
Libretto by the Composer
Premiere: January 2, 1843, Königliches Hoftheater, Dresden
The coast of Norway
As a mighty storm rages, the sea captain Daland directs his crew to seek refuge in a local harbor. He then orders the helmsman to keep watch over his schooner while he rests. Soon after he retires for the evening, a dark, mysterious ship pulls up next to the schooner. A man dressed in black ambles ashore and speaks of his lamentable situation. He is cursed to sail the high seas forever because he had once invoked Satan’s name. He can only break the curse if he finds a faithful wife, yet is only granted permission to come ashore once every seven years. Daland wakes and cordially greets the mysterious man. He soon overhears that Daland has a daughter named Senta. He offers Daland gold and treasure in exchange for Senta’s hand in marriage. Daland agrees, and the two men immediately set sail for Daland’s home.
The women of Daland’s house busily spin at their wheels. Senta, Daland’s daughter, is captivated by a portrait of the Dutchman hanging near her station. The women, over the objection of the nurse, encourage her to retell the Dutchman’s legendary story. Senta proceeds to speak of the Satanic curse, the Dutchman’s infrequent trips ashore, and his need for a faithful wife. She emphatically expresses her desire to save him. Erik, her former love, bursts into the room and recounts his harrowing dream in which Senta is taken by a mysterious man out to sea. Senta, much to Erik’s dismay, is enthralled by the dream and pays no attention to his concerns. Crestfallen, Erik leaves the house.
Daland and the mysterious man arrive at the house. Senta and the man are immediately drawn to one another. Senta pledges her unwavering love and fidelity to her newly betrothed.
The women bring victuals to Daland and his crew. They then invite the crew of the mysterious man’s ship, called The Flying Dutchman, to join the festivities. Daland’s crew fearfully cower when they see ghostlike figures on the ship. Senta arrives, followed by Erik, who bitterly chastises her for abandoning him. Erik alleges that Senta once promised true love and fidelity to him. The mysterious man overhears this and mistakenly believes that he has lost his only chance at redemption. He informs Senta of the curse and reveals that he is indeed the “Flying Dutchman.” As the Dutchman’s ship leaves the harbor, Senta declares her fidelity anew and throws herself into the sea. The ship suddenly transfigures while Senta and the Dutchman ascend to the heavens.