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Turin, at the Teatro Regio Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Wagner's Flying Dutchman
The work is presented in Willy Decker's dreamlike staging; on stage, an international cast led by the American baritone Brian Mulligan
Organized by: Teatro Regio Foundation of Turin

Teatro Regio di Torino Foundation Presents

“ Opera and Ballet Season 2023 – 24 ”
To the Teatro Regio of Turin back on stage The flying Dutchman of Richard Wagner, a “romantic opera” that debuted in 1843 in Dresden. In this passionate work, inspired by an ancient Nordic legend, the German composer - also author of the libretto - focuses for the first time on one of the central themes of his poetics: redemption through love. The work, almost crossed by a storm wind that blows from the first to the last beat, tells the adventurous and poignant story of a Dutch captain who, for having blasphemed God, is condemned to sail for eternity on his ghost vessel, until the A woman's faithful love will not break her curse.

Der fliegende Holländer will be presented from 17 to 26 May 2024 in the dreamlike and fascinating staging of Willy Decker, created for the Opéra national de Paris in 2000 and already applauded at the Teatro Regio at the inauguration of the 2012-13 Season.

On the podium of theOrchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio will rise Nathalie Stutzmann, a conductor who is making a name for herself in the Wagnerian field, highly appreciated at the Bayreuth Festival, where she will return this summer after the sensational Tannhäuser of the last edition, greeted with a standing ovation and thanks to which she won the prestigious Oper! Award 2024 as Best Conductor.

On stage, an international cast: The Dutchman will have the rich, confident and refined voice of the American baritone Brian Mulligan; The South African soprano will try her hand at the role of Senta Johanni von Oostrum, in that of the hunter Erik, the American tenor Robert Watson. They complete the cast Gidon Saks (Daland), Annely Peebo (Mary) and Krystian Adam (Daland's helmsman). The Regio Choir is instructed, as usual, by Ulysses Trabacchin.

The installation created by the German director Willy Decker – with the sets and costumes of Wolfgang Gussmann and the lights of Hans Tölstede – we play on absences and suggestions: few elements appear on stage (ropes, some chairs) and above all a gigantic white door which represents a border between different dimensions. Everything is essential and highly evocative, as Decker himself explained in an interview the day after the first staging: «Just as the real sea cannot be represented in the theater, in all its infinity, in the same way it cannot be made to appear a real vessel; the Dutchman must remain an image, a story, a ballad (...) In fact, the storm that thunders in Wagner's music cannot be shown on the stage except in individuals".

Der fliegende Holländer, considered the composer's first true musical drama, marks a turning point in Wagner's artistic career. Although influenced by the model of the French grand opera (evident in the most spectacular aspects and in the mass scenes) as well as by the Italian tradition, significant stylistic features emerge for the first time in the Flying Dutchman, new elements that anticipate subsequent Wagnerian production: the first leitmotifs relating to characters and feelings, and the tendency emerges to merge closed numbers, still recognisable, into larger and more continuous scenes, especially in correspondence with episodes of a fantastic nature.

It was the summer of 1839 when Wagner, pressed by his numerous creditors, left Riga behind and set sail for London aboard the merchant ship Thetis; the journey was full of difficulties and unexpected events, but also of interesting sound impressions: in his autobiography Mein Leben, from 1870, the composer says that the call of the sailors lowering the sails during a storm among the Norwegian fjords gave him the initial inspiration for The Flying Dutchman. Although the alleged autobiographical inspiration is only partly true, it is indisputable that he treated his literary source with freedom, the version of an ancient Nordic legend narrated in the novel by Heinrich Heine 'From the memoirs of Mr. von Schnabelewopski', identifying with the tormented and persecuted protagonist and introducing two fundamental themes of his poetics: the curse and redemption through women. Wagner originally conceived the work from the perspective of an outdoor staging.Paris Opera: very realistically the musician, young and semi-unknown, proposed to the theater a libretto for a one-act opera; the subject was accepted, but it was assigned to another musician, Pierre-Louis Dietsch, who wrote Le Vaisseau fantôme. Wagner, disappointed, reworked the opera, dividing it into three acts and changing the setting and the names of the characters to propose it to the theater of Dresden, where it was actually staged in 1843.

To underline the legendary aspect of the story, Wagner set his drama in an indeterminate era. The work begins with strong nautical hues; along the coasts of the North Sea, a storm has washed ashore two very different characters: the first is a frank and naive Norwegian sailor, Daland, the other is a pale Dutchman, in command of a vessel loaded with treasures but baleful looking. The Dutchman, having cursed God, has been forced to wander the seas for many years: only the faithful love of a woman will be able to change his destiny. When the two men cross paths, the Dutchman discovers that Daland has a daughter and offers him his treasures in exchange for her hand; the sailor accepts and takes him to the young Senta. Daland's daughter, however, is promised in marriage to Erik; however, she senses that she is destined for another man, the protagonist of a dark legend that obsesses her. As soon as Senta and the Dutchman meet, they understand that they are destined for each other, but Erik wants to prevent the bond and reaches out to the girl to remind her of his previous commitment. Seeing them together, the Dutchman doubts Senta's fidelity and decides to break off the engagement, revealing his identity, which had been unknown until then. The girl understands that her premonition has come true: the man is the protagonist of the legend and she is the woman chosen to save him therefore, as he is preparing to set sail, Senta throws herself into the sea declaring her innocence to him. The sacrifice is not in vain, because the Dutchman's ship sinks, freeing man from eternal damnation.


(Photo above, credit Federica Coccito | Teatro Regio di Torino)
Turin, at the Teatro Regio Nathalie Stutzmann conducts Wagner's Flying Dutchman

Other information of interest

Det fliegende Holländer: the plot of the opera

Act I
Among the cliffs and fjords of Norway a ship is docking: the very violent storm which is not yet completely calmed has forced it to deviate from the chosen route, so the sailors, who were already hoping to embrace their brides and fiancées again, have to resign themselves to waiting for the waves subside. By now, however, the danger has passed and Captain Daland sends everyone to rest: a young sailor remains on lookout, humming a melody to keep himself awake, but then inadvertently falls asleep. Not even the sinister roar with which another ship drops anchor right next to him no longer shakes him: it is the ghost ship of the unhappy Dutchman who was condemned to wander the seas eternally in expiation for his foolish sin of pride. . And here is the Dutchman, dressed in black, getting off the boat and immersing himself in his thoughts; every seven years he is allowed to return to land to look for a bride: his only hope of salvation, in fact, is to meet a girl who is faithful until death, who with the purity of her love earns him divine forgiveness. The centuries accumulate, however, and the dawn of faithful love never rises: so the Dutchman has no choice but to trust in the end of time, with the annihilation of creation. Having gone out on deck, Daland spots the stranger and addresses him cordially: when the Dutchman then opens one of his chests and shows him the priceless treasure that is crammed there, Daland points out that he has a daughter as sweet as an angel and 'Dutch asks him to meet her. In the meantime, a favorable wind has arisen and Daland's ship sets sail amidst the jubilation of the sailors.

Act II
In Daland's house, a group of girls, supervised by their nurse Mary, are busy spinning and distract themselves with a cheerful song: their chatter annoys the mistress of the house, Senta, who sits thoughtfully on the sidelines. Mary reproaches her: instead of working and being serene, the young woman continually contemplates a portrait hanging on the wall and allows herself to be saddened by it. The girls want to know more and Senta agrees to tell the ballad from which she learned the unfortunate story of the Dutchman. The general emotion is interrupted by the news of Daland's return; Senta would like to run to meet him, but is held back by Erik, her boyfriend, who warns her against her exaltation and tells her of a premonitory dream in which he saw her eloping with the cursed Dutchman. Not a minute passes, and here he appears on the doorstep of the Daland house in the company of a character identical to the portrait hanging on the wall; Senta remains petrified and Daland considers it more polite to walk away, after having told his daughter about his marriage plans. Left alone, Senta and the Dutchman intertwine a duet which is more a silent conversation of glances than a real dialogue; upon his return Daland has the satisfaction of seeing them now perfectly close.

The two ships, that of the Dutchman and that of Daland, are anchored in the port; on the latter the sailors keep themselves cheerful by singing. A group of girls arrives with provisions and libations: to annoy their fellow villagers, the girls make a show of going first to the foreigners' ship, inviting them to feast in company; initially no one responds to their calls, then, given the insistence of the girls and the noisy revelry of the Norwegians, gusts of wind and sinister grins begin to rise from the ghost vessel in response, which terrify those present, causing them to retreat. Senta appears, followed by Erik who tries to persuade her not to abandon him; the conversation is surprised by the Dutchman, who falls into the misunderstanding of believing that Senta is cultivating another love affair and gives orders to his crew to set sail: he too has fallen in love with Senta and does not want to condemn her to eternal damnation in which he would incur by betraying him. While the ship raises the anchor, Senta, distraught, rushes towards the rocks and throws herself into the sea, offering her life to the Dutchman: the vessel immediately sinks and the figures of Senta and the Dutchman are drawn against the red dawn hugged.


Nathalie Stutzmann conductor
Willy Decker direction

Riccardo Fracchia resumption of directing
Wolfgang Gussmann sets and costumes
Hans Tölstede lights
Vladi Spigarolo light recovery

Ulysses Trabacchin choir master
Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino

Characters and performers
The Dutch Brian Mulligan
Listen Johanni von Oostrum
Erik Robert Watson
Daland Gidon Saks
Mary Annely Peebo
Daland's helmsman Krystian Adam

Teatro Regio Turin staging
Original work Opéra national de Paris


Det fliegende Holländer
Romantic opera in three acts
Music and libretto by Richard Wagner

Absolute first performance
Dresden, Königliches Hoftheater, 02.01.1843

Who organizes

Teatro Regio Foundation of TurinThe Teatro Regio of Turin… more

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