An Opera in Three Acts by Wagner.
Relayed from the Colston Hall, Bristol
The Chorus of the Bristol Choral Society
The Bristol Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Sir Herbert Brewer
Wagner more than once, in some form or other, treated dramatically the idea of the redemption of man from evil forces by the purifying influence and sacrifice of womankind. There was much in his own attitude to life that put him in sympathy with this idea.
He became interested in the legend of the Dutch sailor captain, who, swearing that he would round the tape if he had to sail for ever, was heard by the Evil One, who condemned him to sail the seas until ho could find a woman faithful to death. The composer had a stormy sea-voyage to London, in 1839, on which he experienced hardship and danger. The legend was much in his mind, and soon afterwards he began to put his ideas of the Opera on paper, writing both libretto and music. The Opera was produced in 1843. In the Overture we can hear the contrast between the storm that depicts the fate of the Dutch captain, and the tender, romantic melody of the woman who is willing to sacrifice herself for him-a melody which is a basic element of the whole work. A sailor's song is also prominent.
We are to know that the Dutchman is allowed to land once every seven years, to seek a woman who shall redeem him. Many weary terms he has sailed, and now is come to anchor again in a bay of Norway. Here is lying the vessel of Captain Daland (Bass), whose home is near. The Dutchman (Baritone) asks that he may seek the hand of Daland's daughter, Senta, to whom, he says, he will give his riches. He still clings to the hope that he may find a woman whose love will free him from the curse. Daland agrees to the match, and they go to his home.
The scene is a room in Daland's house.
Senta (Soprano) sits with her nurse, Mary (Contralto), and her spinning maidens, who sing a charming song. She is gazing upon a portrait of the Dutchman, and is affected by his unhappy history. The girls chaff her about her absorption in the tale of the mysterious Dutchman, and hint that her huntsman lover, Erik, will not brook a rival.
Senta sings the ballad of the Flying Dutchman-the song on which the dramatic and musical motifs of the Opera centre. She prays that she may be the Dutchman's salvation.
Now her lover, Erik (Tenor) enters, telling of her father's coming. The others go out, and Erik sings of his love. He has had a dream of the meeting of Daland with the Dutchman. Senta declares her conviction that she and the wanderer are seeking each other, and Erik, heart-broken and horrified, leaves her.
Her father and the Dutchman enter. and the Act closes with a scene between the two thus brought together, in which she vows to be true, and so to save him.
The Chorus of the Bristol Choral
The Bristol Symphony
Orchestra conducted by:
The Flying Dutchman:
Daland, a Norwegian Sea Captain:
Senta, his Daughter:
Erik, a Huntsman:
Steersman of Daland's vessel:
The scene is a rocky bay, in which the ships of Daland and the Dutchman are anchored. Daland's sailors are carousing, but the Dutchman's ship is eerily silent. Girls come from Daland's house and hail the Dutchman's crew, but there is no response. A storm arises about the strange ship, and flames spring from its masts, though else where all is calm. The sailors upon it sing a wild chorus. After a time, the tumult ceases. Senta comes from the house, Erik following and trying desperately to persuade her against her design.
The Dutchman hears the lover reminding Senta of their plighted troth, and fears that his hope is vain, that she is lost to him. He reproaches her, and in agitation hastens to leave her, after telling her of the only way in which he can be freed from the curse. He goes aboard his vessel, which swiftly sails out to sea. Senta rushes away. Erik, her father, and the nurse seek to restrain her, but she runs to a rocky point and throws herself into the sea. The Flying Dutchman's ship sinks, and in the midst of the waters is seen the apotheosis of Senta and the wanderer, transfigured in glory, soaring to Heaven.