Wednesday Wagner: Overture to "The Flying Dutchman"

>> Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I can't say as I'm a fan of Wagner, but I just couldn't think of any other "W" composers, so here we are! (At least I'm honest.)

Der fliegende Holländer
(The Flying Dutchman) is an opera, with music and libretto by Richard Wagner. The story comes from the legend of the Flying Dutchman, about a ship captain condemned to sail until Judgment Day.

Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography Mein Leben that he had been inspired following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in July and August 1839, but in his 1843 Autobiographical Sketch Wagner acknowledged he had taken the story from Heinrich Heine's retelling of the legend in his 1834 satirical novel The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski (Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski). The central theme is redemption through love, to which Wagner returns in most of his subsequent operas.

Wagner conducted the premiere at the Semper Oper in Dresden, 1843. This work shows early attempts at operatic styles that would characterise his later music dramas. In Der fliegende Holländer Wagner uses a number of leitmotifs (literally, "leading motifs") associated with the characters and themes. The leitmotifs are all introduced in the overture, which begins with a well-known ocean or storm motif before moving into the Dutchman and Senta motifs.

Wagner originally wrote Der fliegende Holländer to be performed without intermission — an example of his efforts to break with tradition — and, while today's opera houses sometimes still follow this directive, it is also performed in a three act version.

Information Source: Wikipedia


Derrick June 10, 2009 at 6:46 AM  

Hi Lynette,

Wagner often comes to us slowly! His music alone is beautiful, I think, it's just the five hour operas that make one nervous! I saw it many moons ago, all in one go. BBC radio had this on the other weekend with Bryn Terfel as the Dutchman. The overture gives all the drama!

Lynette June 10, 2009 at 6:55 AM  

I think I know too much about the man's personal life and philosophies. Frightening character he was!


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