Washington National Opera: The Flying Dutchman

Saturday, March 7, 2015 - Saturday, March 21, 2015

In this WNO revival, formidable bass-baritone and Grammy winner Eric Owens makes his staged role debut in Wagner's retelling of the nautical legend, about a captain condemned to wander the seas in search of unconditional love.


$25.00 - $289.00

Run Time:

Approx. 2-1/2 hours

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NOTE: There is NO late seating for this performance. Please plan to arrive with sufficient time to be seated before the performance begins.


The Flying Dutchman (1843)
(Der fliegende Holländer)
Libretto by the composer
WNO revival

"American bass-baritone Eric Owens speaks to you even in his silences…. and shakes you when he sings."--The Chicago Sun-Times

In Wagner's retelling of the nautical legend, formidable bass-baritone and two-time Grammy Award winner Eric Owens--one of the most in-demand American opera stars of our day--returns to WNO to make his staged role debut as The Dutchman. Condemned to wander the seas upon a ship of ghosts, he can only venture ashore once every seven years to seek his salvation: a woman's unconditional love. When Senta, the beguiling daughter of a sea captain, pledges to be faithful to him forever, it seems the ancient curse might finally be broken. But her jealous huntsman suitor poses just one of many obstacles in a tale where greed, fidelity, and misfortune collide in full force.

Director Stephen Lawless tells the Flying Dutchman's story "with clarity and theatrical flair while adding a few powerful images along the way" (New York Magazine). Among them: a stunning ship of blood-red sails that places the opera's dramatic action in bold relief, from its tempestuous overture and Senta's famous ballad to the riveting final moments atop a storm-battered bluff. A trio of bright stars--German soprano Christiane Libor, Estonian bass Ain Anger, and American tenor Jay Hunter Morris--make their WNO debuts in performances conducted by WNO Music Director Philippe Auguin and Eric Weimer, joining this perfect showcase for Eric Owens's "ability to wrap his deep voice around a text and create a distinct sense of character" (The New York Times).

Senta: Christiane Libor* / Jennifer Root* (Mar. 11)
The Dutchman: Eric Owens / Alan Held (Mar. 11)
Erik: Jay Hunter Morris*
Daland: Ain Anger* / Peter Volpe (Mar. 19, 21)
Mary: Dana Beth Miller 
The Steersman: Michael Brandenburg

Conductor: Philippe Auguin (Mar. 7, 9, 11, 13, 15m) / Eric Weimer* (Mar. 19, 21)
Director: Stephen Lawless
Set Designer: Giles Cadle
Costume Designer:Ingeborg Bernerth
Lighting Designer: Joan Sullivan-Genthe

*WNO debut

In German with projected English titles.Titles may not be visible from the rear of the orchestra.

Performance Timing: One Act Only - 2-1/2 hours.This production does NOT include an intermission.


Musicologist Saul
Lilienstein leads the Thursday, March 19 Opera Insight, starting 1 hour and 15 minutes before the performance and lasting 35–40 minutes. All other Opera Insights start 1 hour before the performance and last 20–25 minutes. Informative and entertaining, Opera Insights take you inside the composer's mind, behind the scenes of planning a production, and into the history and social context of each opera.
These lectures are free, but patrons must present a ticket from any performance of The Flying Dutchman.

Following these performances:
Monday evening, March 9
Sunday matinee, March 15
Join WNO artists for a unique opportunity to ask questions about the production.
All discussions begin immediately after the performance and are free with your ticket.

Synopsis of WNO's The Flying Dutchman

Daland's fishing boat is caught in a storm. A second ship appears and its captain, a ghostly Dutchman, laments his fate: For an act of hubris he has been doomed to sail the sea eternally unless he can obtain the love of a faithful woman. Daland catches sight of the Dutchman's ship and agrees to provide shelter for him and his crew. When the Dutchman reveals that he possesses a considerable fortune, Daland offers his daughter's hand in marriage. The Dutchman agrees, hoping the girl, Senta, may be the one to lift his curse.


The village girls chatter as they await the sailors' return, but Senta is lost in her dreams of the legendary Flying Dutchman. The girls tease her, warning that her fiancé, Erik, will react violently to her fantasies. Senta, however, will not be distracted from her obsession; she declares it her mission to redeem the lonely sailor. When her father returns home with his ghostly guest, Senta and the Dutchman are transfixed by each other. She pledges to marry him.


The men of Daland's ship, together with the local girls, celebrate their ship's safe return. In vain, they attempt to rouse the crew of the Dutchman's ship to join them. Erik pulls Senta aside and pleads with her to reconsider her promise to the Dutchman, but she refuses. The Dutchman, overhearing only part of their conversation, believes she is unfaithful to him and, despairing, summons his crew to sail away. Senta, true to her word, follows him to her death.


Watch and Listen

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 1 of 7: Introduction and Overture (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 2 of 7: Act One: A harbor in the storm (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 3 of 7: Act One: The Flying Dutchman (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 4 of 7: Act Two: Within a domestic world: Senta (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 5 of 7: Act Two: The joyous and fatal commitment (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 6 of 7: Act Three: Choral celebrations and nightmares (audio only)

WNO Commentary: The Flying Dutchman 7 of 7: Act Three: Farewell and sacrifice (audio only)

Francesca Zambello discusses The Flying Dutchman

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