Der Fliegende Holländer
by Richard Wagner
World premiere: Dresden, Court Opera, 1843. Der Fliegende Holländer is the earliest of Wagner’s operatic creations to remain in the repertory. The two lead roles represent archetypes to which the composer would return, in one form or another, in most of his later works: the “otherworldly stranger” and the woman who sacrifices herself for his salvation. The work’s unearthly ambience is impressive but only one aspect of it: Both the world of nature and of the supernatural are magnificently evoked in the score.
Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was the controversial creator of music-drama masterpieces that stand at the center of today’s operatic repertory. An artistic revolutionary who reimagined every supposition about theater, Wagner insisted that words and music were equals in his works. This approach led to the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art,” combining music, poetry, architecture, painting, and other disciplines, a notion that has had an impact on creative fields far beyond opera.
Sung In: German
Met titles In: English
Time Frame: 2H 45min: Acts I, II, intermission (15min) & III.
The great bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel returns to the company for the first time since 2012, in the title role of the cursed sea captain doomed to sail the open ocean for eternity. Valery Gergiev conducts a new production by François Girard, whose visionary 2013 take on Parsifal set the recent Met standard for Wagner stagings. With sweeping sets by John Macfarlane, Girard’s new production turns the Met stage into a rich, layered tableau reminiscent of a vast oil painting. The gifted German soprano Anja Kampe, in her Met debut, is the devoted Senta, whose selfless love is what the Dutchman seeks, with bass Franz-Josef Selig as her father, Daland, and tenor Sergey Skorokhodov as her deserted former lover, Erik.
The opera is set on the Norwegian coast. The time of the action is not specified in the score.
The score of Der Fliegende Holländer is an extraordinary combination of operatic lyricism, dramatic insight, and magnificent effects. At the time it was written, Wagner had not yet developed his theories of music-drama, which would form the basis for his later works. Many of the features of conventional opera (recitatives, arias, ensembles), therefore, can still be found, but the way Wagner integrates them into the fabric of the score clearly foreshadows his later technique of a continuous musical flow.