Tuesday, 18 August 2009

299. Richard Wagner - Der fliegende Hollander (1841, rev. 1860)


Title: Der fliegende Hollander
Performers: Herman Uhde, Astrid Varnay, Ludwig Weber
Conductor: Joseph Keilberth
Year: 1955
Length: 2 hours 20 minutes


Ok, Wagner really is something else. In this, the first of his middle period, innovative operas, he really shows us something that we hadn't seen before. This is reflected in several points: the way in which the orchestra is so completely integral to the drama, the absence of recitatives, the way the whole thing is just one long song with no breaks, the use of leitmotifs.

But if Wagner was nothing but innovation he would surely deserve his place on history books but would hardly be enjoyable. The music is, however, completely amazing stuff, full of bluster and tenderness, immensely expressive and constantly shifting, not afraid to sound dissonant at times.

Then you have the story, which while it is not anything to write home about in this opera, is so completely integrated with the music that this almost feels like a different medium from Rossini's interchangable overtures and songs system. Wagner writes the libretto and the music and it is all one work. Good for him, an amazing opera.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

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.

Senta's Ballad:

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