Summary Richard Wagner. Flying Dutchman (Seaman-wanderer)


Romantic opera in three acts

R. Wagner’s libretto



Daland, Norwegian sailor

Senta, his daughter

Eric, the hunter

Mary, the nurse of Senta

Helicopter ship Dalanda





Mezzo soprano


Norwegian sailors, the crew of the Flying Dutchman, the girl.

The action takes place on the Norwegian shore.

Time: around 1650.


The popular legend of the Sailor Seaman attracted Wagner’s attention in 1838. Interest in her became acute under the impression of a long sea voyage to London; a terrible storm, severe Norwegian fjords, stories of sailors – all this brought to life an ancient

legend in his imagination. In 1840, Wagner sketched the text of a one-act opera, and in May 1841, in ten days, created the final three-act version. Music was also written very quickly, in a single creative impulse – the opera was completed in seven weeks (August-September 1841). The premiere took place on January 2, 1843 in Dresden under Wagner. The source of the plot of “The Flying Dutchman” was a legend spread among the sailors about a ghost ship, probably related to the 16th century, to the era of great geographical discoveries. This legend has fascinated Heine for many years. For the first time he mentions the Flying Dutchman in “Traveling pictures” (“North Sea, Norderney Island”, 1826). In the story “From the memoirs of Monsieur von Schnabelevepsky” (1834) Heine processed this legend in his inherent ironic manner, issuing his treatment for allegedly seen before him in Amsterdam play.

Wagner saw in the folk legend a different, dramatic meaning. The composer was attracted by the mysterious, romantic atmosphere of events: a stormy sea, for which an illusory

ship, a mysterious portrait, playing a fateful role in the fate of the heroine, and, most importantly, the tragic image of the Wanderer himself, rushes without hope, without hope. Deep development in the opera was also won by Wagner’s theme of feminine fidelity, passing through many of his works. He created the image of a dreamy, exalted and at the same time bold, determined, self-sacrificing girl, who, with her selfless love and spiritual purity, redeems the sins of the hero, brings him salvation. To aggravate the conflict, the composer introduced a new, contrasting image – hunter Eric, the groom of Senta, and also widely developed popular scenes.


“Flying Dutchman” – an opera that combines folk-household scenes with fantastic ones. The merry choirs of sailors and girls paint a simple, serene life of the people. In the pictures of the storm, the raging sea, in the singing of the team of the ghost ship, mysterious images of the ancient romantic legend arise. The music that draws the drama of the Dutchman and Senta is characterized by emotion, emotional elation.

Overture conveys the basic idea of ​​the opera. Initially, the French horns and bassoons hear the Hollander’s menacing cry, the music paints a picture of the stormy sea; then at the English horn accompanied by the brass instruments the bright, melodious melody of Senta sounds. At the end of the overture, she acquires an ecstatic, ecstatic character, announcing the atonement, the salvation of the hero.

In the first act, against the background of a stormy sea landscape, mass scenes unfold, cheerfulness and courageous force reliably shading the tragic feelings of the Dutchman. Carefree energy marked the song of the helmsman “Torn me along with the storm of the ocean.” The big aria “The term is over” is a dismal, romantically rebellious monologue of the Dutchman; the slow part of the aria “Oh, for which the hope of salvation” is permeated with restrained sorrow, a passionate dream of peace. In the duet, the melodious, sad phrases of Wanderer are answered by Daland’s brief, lively remarks. The act ends with the initial song of the helmsman, bright and joyfully sounding in the choir.

The second act opens with a joyful chorus of girls “Well, work hard, spinning wheel”; in his orchestral accompaniment, the constant whirring of the spindle is heard. The central place in this scene is played by the dramatic ballad of Senta “Have you met the ship in the sea” – the most important episode of the opera; here, as in the overture, the music depicting the raging elements and the curse that gravitates over the hero, the peaceful melody of redemption, warmed by a feeling of love and compassion, is contrasted. A new contrast is the duet of Eric and Senta: the tender confession “I love you, Senta, passionately” is replaced by an excited story about a dreaming dream “I was lying on a high rock”; at the end of the duo, as a persistent thought, the musical theme of the ballad of Sent again sounds. The top of the development of the second act is the big duo of Senta and the Dutchman, full of passionate feeling; in his music there are many beautiful, expressive, melodious tunes – harsh and mournful for the Dutchman, bright and enthusiastic with Senta. The final tercet emphasizes the romantically elevated warehouse of this central episode.

In the third act – two contrasting sections: a picture of folk fun (mass choral scene) and the denouement of drama. Energetic, cheerful seamen chorus “Helmsman! From Watch Down” is close to the freedom-loving German folk songs. The inclusion of the female choir brings in the music a softer tone; the music of this episode is reminiscent of a waltz – then fervent, then melancholic. Repetition of the chorus “Helmsman” is suddenly interrupted by the ominous singing of the Dutch ghost; There is a menacing fanfare cry, in the orchestra there are images of a storm. The final tercet conveys a change of conflicting feelings: Eric’s tender lyrical cactatine “Ah, remember the day of your first date” is invaded by the impetuous, full of dramatic exclamations of the Dutchman and the excited phrases of Senta. The solemn orchestral conclusion of the opera combines the enlightened cry of the Dutchman and the serene melody of Senta. Love conquered evil forces.

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Summary Richard Wagner. Flying Dutchman (Seaman-wanderer)