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The Flying Dutchman illustration by Benedetto Cristofani

The Flying Dutchman

July 1 - August 25, 2023

Condemned and sailing the stormy seas.

Every seven years, an ill-fated sea captain gets a chance at redemption. He needs a bride to break the curse. Can he find a woman pure of heart or will he roam the seas eternally?

David Alden delivers a new production of The Flying Dutchman to Santa Fe Opera audiences for the first time in 35 years. This Dutchman promises to be a dark, turbulent and dangerous voyage for the condemned sailor.

Music & Libretto By
Richard Wagner
Sung In
Instant Translation Screen
English and Spanish
Production Support Generously Provided By
Wyncote Foundation, as recommended by Frederick R. Haas & Rafael Gomez
The performances of Nicholas Brownlee are supported by
Wagner Society of Santa Fe
The performances of Thomas Guggeis are supported by
Wagner Society of Santa Fe
The performances of Elza van den Heever are supported by
The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
Production Illustration By
Benedetto Cristofani
Run Time
Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes; includes a 25-minute intermission
Please Be Advised
This production contains atmospheric effects including fog and smoke and depictions of violence including suicide.


  • Act I

    The Norwegian Captain Daland’s ship is sheltering in a coastal cove during a storm. Daland sends his crew to rest, leaving the watch to a sleepy Steersman. A ghostly ship appears in the harbor, and its captain goes ashore – as he would have it, thrown there by a sea that refuses to wreck him. The Flying Dutchman is doomed to live forever. He can try to break the curse once every seven years by going ashore to seek a woman who would be faithful to him unto death. Daland sees the Dutchman go and, following him ashore, questions him. Hearing his tale and seeing the riches of his ship, he agrees to bring him home to woo his daughter. The storm subsides.

  • Act II

    Senta and her friends are at work spinning. The girls tease her for being so absorbed in the Dutchman’s portrait, and then ask her to sing his ballad. She jumps up and declares that hers will be the love that breaks the curse and saves him. Her suitor Erik (a hunter, not a sailor) entering with news of the sailors’ homecoming, asks Senta to plead his case with her father. She is evasive, preferring to sympathize with the picture she studies. Then he tells Senta about a dream in which he saw her father coming ashore with a ghastly stranger, and Senta embracing the stranger and sailing away with him. She avows that that is what she must do. He rushes away in despair. Daland enters and presents the Dutchman as Senta’s bridegroom. She is transfixed. The Dutchman is equally moved by the meeting. Daland is delighted that Senta has accepted the stranger’s request.

  • Act III

    Two ships are seen and a sailor’s song is heard. Daland’s crew tries to get the crew of the Dutchman to join their merrymaking, but there is no answer. The Norwegian crew begins to taunt the Dutch crew, and they finally appear and sing as bluish flames run up their sails. Daland’s sailors are terrified. Erik and Senta come out of the house. He reminds her of how she had received and encouraged his love. Now he is afraid she is possessed. The Dutchman, overhearing, bids Senta farewell, for he believes he is unloved. Erik and others try to hold her back from following the Dutchman, who proclaims his identity and puts out to sea. Senta breaks away and rushes to the cliff’s edge, calling out that she knows who he is and she will be faithful unto death. She casts herself into the sea. The ship sinks, the sea rises and the forms of Senta and the Dutchman float upward in the light.