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The Flying Dutchman 1971

July 31 - August 11, 1971

Resplendent music…

…and the search for perfect love as redemption from deathless wandering provide the powerful themes in this haunting classic.

Music and Libretto By
Richard Wagner
Based on an Episode In
Heinrich Heine's "Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski"


Act I

A violent storm has driven Daland’s ship several miles beyond his home on the Norwegian coast. After telling his crew that they have earned a good rest, he leaves the watch in charge of a young steersman, who falls asleep singing a ballad about his sweetheart. As the sky suddenly darkens and the waters again grow rough, a ghostly red-sailed schooner appears on the horizon and drops anchor next to Daland’s ship. Its captain, Vanderdecken, steps ashore, despairing of his fate: once every seven years he may leave his ship in search of a woman whose perfect love will redeem him from his deathless wandering; failing this, he is condemned to roam until the Day of Judgment. When Daland returns to discover the phantom ship, Vanderdecken tells him of his plight and offers a reward of gold and jewels for a night’s lodging. Then, discovering Daland has a daughter, the Dutchman asks for her hand in marriage. Daland, seeing the extent of the stranger’s wealth, immediately agrees and rejoices in his good fortune. Vanderdecken promises his entire treasure cargo as dowry and renews hope for his salvation. The happy Daland, agreeing to meet the Dutchman at his home port, sets sail with his crew, who take up the steersman’s song.

Act II

Daland’s young daughter, Senta, dreamily watches a group of her friends who sit spinning in the family living room under the watchful eye of Mary, her nurse. The girls tease Senta about her suitor, the huntsman Erik, but she remains almost in a trance, staring at a portrait of the Flying Dutchman on the wall. When the superstitious Mary refuses to sing a ballad about the phantom captain, Senta begins the song with burning intensity: to the dismay of her friends. she prays that she may be the one to save the lost man. Erik enters with news of her father’s return: Mary and the others rush out to prepare the homecoming feast. The huntsman remains behind and asks the reluctant Senta to plead his cause with Daland. Noticing her preoccupation with the Dutchman’s picture, he relates a frightening dream in which he saw her passionately embrace the Dutchman and sail away on his ship. Senta, however, does not hide her true feelings from Erik, who leaves in despair. A moment later, Vanderdecken steps before the girl, who stands transfixed. Daland quickly follows and bids his daughter welcome the stranger, whom he has brought to be her husband. After he leaves, the Dutchman tells of his sad lot, testing Senta’s compassion and trust; she ecstatically vows to be faithful to him unto death. Daland comes back and is overjoyed to learn that his daughter has consented to be Vanderdecken’s bride.


At the harbor, the villagers celebrate the sailors’ return with singing and dancing. Perplexed by the strange silence aboard the Dutchman’s ship, they invite his men to share the festivities and toast the neighboring vessel. In answer to the greeting, the ghostly crew deride their captain’s quest in hollow chanting; the villagers run away in terror. Senta soon rushes in, pursued by Erik, who insists that she has pledged him her love. Vanderdecken overhears the huntsman’s claim and brands Senta a faithless woman, bidding his salvation farewell. Senta pleads with him to hear her out, but the Dutchman replies that since that she has not yet proclaimed her vows before God, she will escape the eternal damnation of those who betray him. As she replies that she knows his identity and means to save him from his fate, Vanderdecken leaps aboard his vessel just as it sets sail, revealing that he is the Flying Dutchman. While Erik, Mary and Daland stand transfixed in horror, Senta, triumphantly crying that she is faithful unto death, runs to the edge of the fjord and throws herself into the raging sea. Vanderdecken’s ship is seen sinking on the horizon as the transfigured Senta and Flying Dutchman rise to heaven.


Santa Fe Opera

John Shaw


The Dutchman

Santa Fe Opera

Joyce Barker



Santa Fe Opera

Don Garrard



Santa Fe Opera

Jean Bonhomme



Santa Fe Opera

Sidney Johnson



Santa Fe Opera

Judith Farris



Edo de Waart headshot

Edo de Waart


Santa Fe Opera

Bodo Igesz


Santa Fe Opera

Neil Peter Jampolis


Scenic Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Suzanne Mess

Costume Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Georg Schreiber

Lighting Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Jones

Chorus Master