Radio New Zealand Concert network
Sunday 23rd of October 2016 at 6 -8.35 pm
Sunday 23rd of September 2012 at 3 - 6 pm
Richard Wagner (1813-1883), DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER (The Flying Dutchman)
WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman, an opera in three acts
The Dutchman............. Greer Grimsley
Senta............................ Lise Lindstrom
Mary............................ Erin Johnson
Erik.............................. Ian Storey
The Steersman............. AJ Glueckert
Daland......................... Kristinn Sigmundsson
San Francisco Opera Chorus and Orchestra/Patrick Summers (San Francisco Opera)
The Dutchman............. Egils Silins
Senta............................ Anja Kampe
Daland......................... Stephen Milling
Erik.............................. Endrik Wottrich
Mary............................ Clare Shearer
Steersman.................... John Tessier
Royal Opera House Chorus & Orch, Covent Garden/Jeffrey Tate (recorded in the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, by BBC)
“The Flying Dutchman” is not an acrobat or an aviator from Nederland; it is actually the name of a spectral ship captained by an unnamed Hollander, who once tried to round the Cape of Good Hope at the bottom of Africa when winds and waves were against it, and the passengers and sailors were also against it; when a heavenly figure appeared to him (or else it was the Devil himself), he raged and blasphemed, and he was then cursed to sail on the ocean till the Day of Judgement.
At the first performance of this his fourth music-drama, in Dresden in 1843, young Richard Wagner (a shy boy, despite his reputation for arrogance) had to be pushed onto the stage to receive the acclaim of the audience at the end of the 2nd act; as he retreated to the wings he backed into the spinning wheels of the girls (used in the spinning chorus).The first Wagner recording I bought was a 78 rpm with that chorus and the sailors' shanty, and with Herbert von Karajan conducting the Vienna opera.
In the version of the story that Wagner presented, the Dutchman was allowed to come to land every seven years, to search for a woman who would be faithful to him and save him from the endless aimless seafaring he was suffering. In 1839 Wagner himself had experienced a storm-tossed voyage to England, in which the ship was driven into a Norwegian fiord, where the voices of the crew echoed around the rocks; this became the setting for Act 1, in preference to Scotland (in another version). The Norwegian captain who meets the Dutchman is offered a chest of treasure in exchange for hospitality (a regular Dutch auction and a Dutch bargain), and Daland assures him that his house is set up for Dutch comfort, has plenty of Dutch courage for a Dutchman’s draught, and he has a lovely daughter who is a great admirer of the Dutch. (Her name is Senta, because she was heaven-sent, a God-send, for the tormented sailor from the low lands.)
This is an opera where the bass-baritone wins the woman and the tenor misses out.
By the way, Germans do not call Hollanders (or Nederlanders, lowlanders) 'Dutch', because that is the word they use for themselves (Deutsch).
The opera can be performed in three acts, or with no intervals (like Das Rheingold).
The oft-repeated line has a 19th-century conductor complaining about the wind that blew out at him every time he opened the musical score of this opera; unless I am mistaken, he was Hans van Bülow, and that wind blew his wife Cosima away into the arms of his friend Richard Wagner, and she (a daughter of Franz Liszt) became his muse. The music of the ten-minute overture is stormy with the Hollander's theme sounding forth regularly; punctuated by the sailors' rollicking chorus, and the redemption theme of Senta (woman saves man, as in all Wagner operas), in this case a descending phrase of four notes (three blind mice, and the third one has a hiccup, according to Denis Forman). After many years, Wagner changed the thumping ending (of the overture and of the final act) to a recapitulation of Senta's motif (in the style of Tristan und Isolde); but the conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch here (and in a Bayreuth recording I have from 1959) reverts to the original Dresden score, with more blaring brass.
(Act 1: the coast of Norway)
 The Norwegian sailors of Daland's boat are yohohoing in a storm that drives them into a bay in Norway, on their way home to their port. They go below, and Captain Daland orders the helmsman to keep watch.
 The Steuermann (steersman) sings about the south wind which will take him back to his girl; he falls asleep, and fails to notice the ghostly Dutch ship that pulls up alongside his.
 The Hollander comes ashore: The time is up (Die Frist is um) and 7 years have gone by; he bemoans his fate and recounts his tale of woe. "Eternal destruction, take me!" is his last cry, echoed by his crew.
 Daland and the Dutchman compare notes. The stranger offers him some of his wealth for some home cooking, and more if he has a daughter he can marry. Daland is delighted, and says follow me. The good south wind comes up and they all set sail.
(Act 2: Daland's home)
 Supervised by the nurse Mary, the girls are spinning and singing (Summ und brumm, du gutes Rädchen), urging their wheels to create winds that will bring their sailor-boys back to them. Senta, however, is gazing at a portrait of the Dutchman (that had somehow come into their possession, supposedly from a previous landfall of his).
Her companions warn her that Erik will be jealous.
 Senta sings the ballad, two verses beginning with Yoho (etc), imitating the howling wind, and pausing to pray for his redemption, and the second time the women join in. But when Senta offers herself as his redeemer, all are horrified, and so is Erik when he enters with the news of Daland's return.
 Erik rebukes her for her obsession with the legend of the wandering Dutchman; he knows that her father will reject him as son-in-law because he is not rich, but he asks her to respond to his love. He tells her of his dream, in which he saw her and the man in the picture sailing away together. Senta believes it and declares her willingness to sacrifice herself for this unhappy man.
 Daland introduces the Dutchman as her wealthy suitor, and leaves them to sort things out. In a duet they both believe they were made for each other.
 Daland returns and it is a done deal; she will be faithful to him till death.
(Act 3: On the shore)
 Steersman leave the watch, the Norwegian sailors sing, and they also ask the Dutch sailors to join them, but no reply comes from them. Eventually the Dutch ship starts pitching and rolling and a wild chorus emanates from it, striking fear into the Norwegian hearts.
 Erik reproaches Senta for her decision to marry the Dutchman; he reminds her that she had once sworn to love him. He is overheard, and the Dutchman puts to sea in despair; but Senta asserts her faithfulness to him again, and jumps into the sea. (The ship is supposed to sink, and the couple rise up from the waters, ascending to .... somewhere.)
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
DGG DVD (1975)
The HOLLANDER, unnamed Dutchman: Donald McIntyre
DALAND, a Norwegian ship's skipper: Bengt Rundgren
SENTA, daughter of Daland: Catarina Ligenoza
ERIK, a hunter, lover of Senta: Hermann Winkler (tenor)
MARY, Senta's nurse: Ruth Hesse
STEUERMANN (helmsman) on Daland's ship: Harald Ek
Bayerisches Staatsorchester, conductor Wolfgang Sawallisch.
Director: Václav Kashlík
(All the singers perform wonderfully.)
is a movie, not a photograph of a performance (like the ones we see
from the New York Metropera at the cinema); it was made in a large
cinematic studio, with big water tanks and two boats (one with blood-red
DONALD McINTYRE (Big Mac from NZ) is the Hollander; Catarina
Ligenoza is Senta. Wolfgang Sawallisch is the conductor of the Bavarian
Interestingly the Scot who was the foreunner of Daland was a Donald, and his daughter was named Katherine.