According to Wagnerian orthodoxy, it is in this opera that the first signs of Richard Wagner's true genius emerge. And it is a fact that The Flying Dutchman contains nearly all the topics that were to become obsessions for the German master, among them redemption through love.
Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman, Dresden 1843) is based on a legend made popular by Heine. It relates the arrival in small Norwegian harbour of a Dutch sailor who has been condemned to wander the seas in his ghost ship for ever for defying the divine purpose. Only a woman's love and fidelity can win him forgiveness and in order to find such a woman he is permitted to land once every seven years. Wagner builds his opera around Senta, the girl who will sacrifice her life to the stranger in order to rescue him from the curse — an instance of the theme of redemption through love that is fundamental to Wagner's work.
Romantische Oper in three acts. Libretto and music by Richard Wagner based on Heinrich Heine's text Aus den Memorien des Herren von Schnabelewopski. First performed on 2 January 1843 at the Königliches Sächsisches Hoftheater in Dresden. First performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on 12 December 1885.