Richard Wagner

Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), opera, WWV 63

    Description by Rovi Staff

    This legend of a Dutch sea captain cursed to sail the earth unendingly, only coming ashore once every seven years to seek the selfless love of a woman, featured themes that would be of enduring interest to Wagner: the theme of a wanderer in search of redemption reappears several times in his later Ring des Nibelungen; that of redemption through a woman's act of self-sacrifice appears both in Tannhäuser and the Ring; and that of a pre-destined and unbreakable love is central to both the Ring and Tristan and Isolde. In this and several other ways the composition of Der Fliegende Holländer foreshadowed the events of the composer's development as a mature composer.

    Wagner's principal source for his opera about the Flying Dutchman was Heinrich Heine's version of the legend in his Aus den Memoiren des Herren von Schnabelewopski, published in 1834; but while Heine's retelling of the legend is ironic, Wagner stripped it of these elements and instead focused on the elements of love and redemption. The composer claimed that the work's inspiration was a stormy crossing from Riga to London in August 1839; however, Wagner's original prose sketch was set not in Norway, but Scotland, and Senta was originally "Anna." Wagner changed the setting to Norway just a few weeks before the opera's premiere (in Dresden, January 2, 1843) in order to distance it from a production of Pierre-Louis Dietsch's Le vaisseau fantôme, which was also a setting of Wagner's libretto (he had sold it to the Paris Opéra in 1841, hoping to gain the commission for himself).

    It is likewise not true, as Wagner claimed, that the entire work grew from the "thematic seed" of Senta's Act Two ballad, although elements of the song do appear in the Dutchman's monologue and in Erik's dream. This claim was most likely Wagner's attempt to align this relatively early work with the thematic construction of his later music dramas. However, Der Fliegende Holländer does show Wagner's early moves toward large-scale form, and the blurring of divisions between musical sections.

    In many ways, Dutchman resembles its predecessors in German Romantic opera, especially those with supernatural plots. Senta's portentous ballad in Act Two, for example, resembles the prophetic song sung by the heroine of Marschner's Der Vampyr, which Wagner helped prepare for performance in Wurzburg in 1833. Wagner also uses dramatic devices such as the seemingly hypnotic state in which the Dutchman and Senta first encounter each other, to emphasize the unearthly nature and fatedness of the bond between them.

    The Dresden premiere of Dutchman was not the success that Wagner had hoped. Having bathed in the exaggerated splendor and grandeur of his Meyerbeerian Rienzi, those in the audience expected a similar spectacle and were somewhat disappointed. However, Der Fliegende Holländer quickly gained in popularity and has remained a favorite. Perhaps the most familiar excerpts from the score are the "Sailor's chorus" from Act Three and the "Spinning chorus" from Act Two, which precedes Senta's ballad (which foretells of the Dutchman's presence), but the Dutchman's joyful aria "Wie aus der Ferne längst vergang'ner Zeiten" and Daland's "Mögst du mein Kind" are also memorable.


    1. Overture
    2. Hojohe! Hallojo!
    3. Mit Gewitter und Sturm aus fernem Meer
    4. Die Frist ist um
    5. He! Holla! Steuermann!
    6. Mein Schiff ist fest
    7. Blick hin, und uberzeuge
    8. Wenn aus der Quallen
    9. Hei! Wie die Segel schon sich blah'n!
    10. Interlude
    11. Summ' und brumm', du gutes Rädchen
    12. Du böses Kind
    13. Joho hoe! Traft ihr das Schiff
    14. Bleib', Senta!
    15. Ach möchtest du... Mein Kind, du siehst mich?
    16. Mögst du, mein Kind
    17. Wie aus der Ferne längst vergang'ner Zeiten
    18. Verzeiht! Mein Volk hält
    19. Interlude
    20. Steuermann, lass die Wacht!
    21. Jo ho ho hoe!
    22. Was musst' ich hören!
    23. Willst jenes Tags du nicht dich mehr entsinnen
    24. Verloren! Ach! Verloren! (Finale)

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2018 Opus Arte OACD 9043D
    2018 Urania Records WS 121356
    2017 Warner Classics 0190295817442
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon B002346910
    2015 Andromeda ANDRCD 5167
    2014 Andromeda ANDRCD 5163
    2014 RCO Live RCO 14004
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765435042
    2013 Masterworks / Sony Classical 88765427172
    2013 Brilliant Classics 94664
    2012 ZYX Music CLA 101362
    2012 Broken Audio BRAU 0593
    2012 Decca 4784173
    2012 Decca
    2011 Teldec / Warner Classics 2564667082
    2011 PentaTone Classics PTC 5186400
    2011 Decca
    2010 Myto Historical Line / Myto Records 00232
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099968859
    2010 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099945647
    2009 Myto Records 00221
    2009 Orfeo 6920921
    2009 Document / Documents 223054
    2009 Sony Classical Essential Classics 88697448222
    2008 Golden Melodram 10081
    2008 Testament 21423
    2008 EMI Classics 11973
    2008 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution 5674082
    2008 Deutsche Grammophon 0734433
    2008 Decca 4780279
    2007 BRV 9809
    2007 Allegro Corporation 9804
    2007 Philips 4758289
    2006 Testament 1384
    2006 Opera D'Oro 7030
    2006 Opera D'Oro 1445
    2006 Preiser Records 20046
    2005 Berlin Classics 0032922
    2005 Urania 271
    2005 Golden Melodram 10071
    2005 Preiser Records 20036
    2005 DHM Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 64071
    2004 Walhall 0038
    2004 Document 221532
    2004 Chandos CHAN3119
    2003 Aura Classics 1122
    2002 Teldec 88063
    2002 Golden Melodram 10057
    2002 Opera D'Oro 1357
    2002 Decca 470792
    2001 Living Stage 35125
    2000 Angel Records 67405B
    1999 Preisser 90132
    1999 Living Stage 34706
    1999 Golden Melodram 10028
    1998 Deutsche Grammophon 437778
    1998 Opera D'Oro 1168
    1998 Myto Records 984195
    1998 Decca 4607382
    1997 Grammofono 2000 78731
    1997 Sony Music Distribution 66342
    1995 Intersound 3824
    1995 Preiser Records 90250
    1995 Music & Arts 876
    1994 Madacy 1039
    1994 Berlin Classics 0020972
    1994 London 436418
    1994 EMI Music Distribution 55179
    1994 Naxos 660025
    1993 EMI Music Distribution 64650
    1993 Pearl GEMMCDS9910
    1992 Philips 434599
    1991 Chesky Records 31
    1990 London 417 319-2DM2
    1985 London 414551
    G.Z. Classics 303
    Capitol 63344
    EMI Music Distribution 47054
    Memories 4282
    Rodolphe 32515
    Deutsche Grammophon 439714
    Memories 4281
    Myto Records 93175
    Laudis Records Suite 4007
    Deutsche Grammophon 000875402
    Decca 470600