Every time that Richard Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) has appeared during the history of the Latvian National Opera it has defined the boundaries between legend and reality, past and future, and yet has also led in new directions. Fleeing the difficulties of his time in Riga, sailing off on a risky sea voyage gave the young composer a vision of a new production that was to mark the beginnings of his original style. In the history of Latvian music The Flying Dutchman opened a new and important chapter – with the 1918 production, under the leadership of Teodors Reiters, the Latvju Opera troupe, which evolved into the current Latvian National Opera and Ballet, began its work. And it is with this opera, as interpreted by conductor Mārtiņš Ozoliņš and director Viesturs Kairišs, that the Latvian National Opera and Ballet begins its second century!
“Richard Wagner fled from a complicated financial situation in Riga, and got stuck in time, in eternity. That time he fled first via land, then onboard a ship. Maybe today he would flee on an airplane. He experienced a storm, but it’s doubtful if he would have liked air pockets any better. And then he saw a reflection. At first it seemed to be a ghost ship helmed by a dead captain, but at closer inspection Wagner recognized himself in the eternally wandering, unhappy adventurer who cannot find peace,” says the director of the new production, Viestur Kairish.
"The opera Der fliegende Holländer has had an important place in our repertoire since the very beginning of the Latvian National Opera. Not only because Riga has left a lasting trace on the creation of this opera, but also because it can captivate both the most ardent Wagner fans, as well as afficionados of Italian opera music for whom Wagner’s work is unfamiliar," says the music director and conductor, Mārtiņš Ozoliņš.
Opera in one part without intermissions.
A storm has driven the sea captain Daland's ship ashore. The voyage has exhausted the crew and soon they all go to rest. The Steersman tries to keep up his spirits with a song but falls asleep on the watch. Suddenly a strange vessel pulls alongside Daland's ship, and its captain is the Flying Dutchman. A curse lies upon him - the seaman is condemned to eternal wandering unimpeded by storms or pirates. Once in seven years he is permitted to land. The Dutchman offers Daland unheard-of wealth, pleading in return for lodging and Senta's, the captain's daughter's, hand. Daland accepts the Dutchman's proposal. The ships set sail.
Waiting for the return of Daland's ship, the girls are working on their spinning wheels and singing. Senta's friends tease her about the ardent suitor the huntsman Erik who hates the image at which Senta stares for a long time. Senta, heedless of facetious remarks, sings a ballad about the Flying Dutchman, which she came to love already in childhood, and discloses her innermost secret: with a faithful love she wishes to save the harried seaman. Senta's words surprise Erik, who is overtaken by a strange foreboding. He relates a dream in which he saw her embrace the stranger from the image. The Dutchman and Senta's father appear, and the father announces the marriage arrangement. Senta is transfixed by the Dutchman. The Dutchman does not turn his eyes from Senta - her love and faithfulness will lift his curse.
Sailors celebrate their safe return. They call out to the Dutchman's ship, inviting the crew to join them, but the ship remains dark and silent. Daland's sailors deride the mysterious crew and the sea ghost - the Flying Dutchman. A storm rises. Apparitions approach the shore over the waves - the invitied guests have arrived.
Erik tries to dissuade Senta from binding her life with the weird stranger. Senta is unwilling to listen to him, she has made an oath and is called by a supreme mission. Erik then reminds her of his love for her. The Dutchman, seeing Senta together with Erik, is stricken by desperate jealousy and a sense of loss - Senta, too, has failed to render him undying faithfulness. He reveals his secret and sets off towards his ship to continue this endless roaming prescribed by the curse. Senta throws herself into the sea from the top of a cliff thus redeeming the Dutchman's sins with her death. The Flying Dutchman's ship disintegrates against the cliffs. His odyssey has come to an end...