Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre

By Simon Williams | Go to book overview

becomes associated with the Dutchman himself. In striking contrast, the second leitmotif, first played on the woodwinds, is calm and harmonious; in the course of the action, this will become associated with Senta and the salvation she brings the Dutchman. During the overture, which also contains leitmotifs associated with stormy weather, suffering, and the rough life of the sailors, Senta's leitmotif softens the Dutchman's. The overture ends with a triumphant combination of the two leitmotifs, anticipating the apotheosis at the end of the opera. The two leitmotifs are heard throughout the action; the Dutchman's sounds quietly in the orchestra when he first comes ashore and acquires great power toward the end of his entrance aria. Later, the leitmotif is heard whenever the Dutchman appears in someone's thoughts and, in the final scene of the opera, it is sung by his ghostly crew when they mock the terrified Norwegian sailors. Senta's redemption leitmotif first occurs in the dramatic action when she contemplates the picture of the Dutchman in the second scene, and the theme reappears each time Wagner wishes to draw attention to her function as the Dutchman's savior. Often the two leitmotifs are heard in conjunction, most splendidly at the end as a representation of the victory of Senta's love.

The potential of the leitmotif as a flexible dramatic language was far from fully realized in The Flying Dutchman. Furthermore, while Wagner claimed that the music was continuous, it is still possible to discern the discrete "numbers" method of composition characteristic of traditional opera. Nevertheless, this romantic opera represents an important step toward his achievement of a mature "music drama" in which music would be formed into a dramatic language unprecedented both in its flexibility and precision.


NOTES
1
Heinrich Heine, "Über die französische Bühne", Werke, ed. Eberhard Galley.4 vols. (Frankfurt: Insel, 1968) 3: 253.
2
Attila Csampai and Dietmar Holland, eds., Der fliegende Holländer: Texte, Materialien, Kommentare ( Hamburg: Ricordi, 1982), 103.
3
Barry Millington. Wagner ( London: Dent, 1984), 127.

-29-

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Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • Chapter 1 - The Fiery Conformist 1
  • Notes 17
  • Chapter 2 Bohemian in Paris 19
  • Notes 29
  • Chapter 3 - Kapellmeister in Dresden 31
  • Notes 52
  • Chapter 4 - Revolutionary in Exile 53
  • Notes 75
  • Chapter 5 - Romantic in Exile 77
  • Notes 90
  • Chapter 6 - The King's Friend 91
  • Notes 109
  • Chapter 7 - The Master of Bayreuth 111
  • Notes 131
  • Chapter 8 - The Dying Magus 133
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 9 - Wagner's Theatrical Legacy 147
  • Notes 161
  • Chronology of Wagner's Life 163
  • Further Reading 171
  • Index 177
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