WAGNER: Der fliegende Holl‰nder

First Performance: 2 January 1843, Kˆniglich S‰chsisches Hoftheater,

Principal Characters
Daland, a Norwegian seafarer Bass
Senta, his daughter Soprano
Erik, a hunter Tenor
Mary, Senta’s nurse Alto
Der Steuermann (Helmsman) Tenor
Der Holl‰nder (Dutchman) Baritone

Setting: A village on the Norwegian coast, c. 1650.

Act I

The vessel of the Norwegian merchant Daland has run into a severe storm
shortly before reaching harbour and drops anchor in the little cove of
Sandwike on the Norwegian coast. Daland decides to wait for the storm to
abate and sends the crew to get some rest. Only the steersman is left to keep
watch on deck. He, however, is also soon overcome by sleep and does not
notice the mysterious things which are happening around him.

A second ship approaches. The captain goes ashore. It is the Flying
Dutchman, who bemoans his fate: he had once wanted to sail around a cape in a
furious gale and sworn that he would accomplish this feat even if he had to
keep on sailing forever. The devil took him at his word and condemned him to
sail the sea until Judgement Day. The only hope he has of being saved from
this terrible fate is if an angel were to intercede for him: every seven
years the Dutchman can go ashore. If he manages to find a woman who will
redeem him by promising to love him forever, the curse will be broken and he
will be able to die.

Daland discovers the strange vessel and its captain. The Dutchman asks him
if he might be his guest for a while. The merchant is happy to agree when he
learns of the treasures this mysterious man offers him in return. He is also
willing to give his daughter’s hand in marriage to the Dutchman when
the latter asks his permission to woo her.

Meanwhile the storm has subsided and the wind has changed direction. The
sails are quickly hoisted and Daland sails away, the Dutchman following

Act II

Unlike the girls around her, Daland’s daughter Senta is absorbed in
dreamy contemplation of the Flying Dutchman, whose portrait she has with her
always. The girls tease her about this. Tired of listening to their silly
teasing, Senta sings them the ballad of the Flying Dutchman, finally
proclaiming that she is the woman who will deliver the condemned sailor from
his curse with her love. At that moment Erik, who has loved Senta for a long
time, enters. He brings news of the return of Senta’s father. The girls
set off quickly to greet the sailors.

Erik pleads with Senta to ask her father for his consent to their
marriage. She, however, tries to make him understand that the fate of the
Flying Dutchman affects her more deeply than his pleas. As a warning, Erik
tells her of his dream in which Senta meets a stranger, a weird sailor. Senta
interprets this as a sign that her secret wish will be fulfilled.

Daland and the Dutchman enter. The father introduces his daughter to the
stranger whose wife she is to become. He shows her the Dutchman’s
treasures to convince her that she is making a good match. He then leaves the
two of them alone.

Senta and the Dutchman are immediately attracted to each other and realise
that they have each found the answer to their deepest longings in the other.
Although the Dutchman warns Senta not to underestimate the sacrifice she is
making for him, she is determined to become his wife and swears to be
faithful to him until death.

Daland returns and invites them both to join in the celebrations with the
sailors, at which he plans to announce Senta’s betrothal to the


The Norwegians taunt the weird crew of the Dutch vessel, who do not want
to take part in the celebrations. Finally the Dutch sailors retaliate, and
everybody flees to escape the violence of their reaction.

Erik pleads with Senta but she does not respond to his reproaches. He
reminds her of how she once said she loved him, which made him believe she
would always be faithful. The Dutchman overhears this conversation and can no
longer believe Senta truly means to keep her promise to him. Without giving
her the chance to explain, the Dutchman turns to leave. In an act of despair,
Senta confirms her pledge of fidelity.

Source: Bayerische Staatsoper]

here for the complete libretto.

first_audio_name=Richard Wagner: Der fliegende Holl‰nder
product_title=Richard Wagner: Der fliegende Holl‰nder
product_by=Hans Hotter (Holl‰nder), Helene Werth (Senta), Bernd Aldenhoff (Erik), Kurth Bˆhme (Daland), Helmut Krebs (Steuermann), Res Fischer (Mary), Chor und Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks, Wilhelm Sch¸chter (cond.)
Live recording, 1951, Hamburg.