The Flying Dutchman was meant to be a Scot…

The Flying Dutchman was meant to be a Scot…


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2015

The Theater an der Wien, where Wagner in 1863 conducted scenes from Der fliegende Holländer, has a new production in the original 1841 version, where the opera is set in Scotland, not Norway.

You can watch it here on livestream, next Tuesday.

The conductor is Marc Minkowski (with Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble) and the director Olivier Py.


Holländer_OHP_HiRes_017 - Kopie


  • B Bailey says:

    Not exactly news. That’s why one of the characters is still named Mary.

  • Prewartreasure says:

    As long as James Naughtie is nowhere to be seen or heard, who cares!

  • Anne63 says:

    “The Flying Dutchman was meant to be a Scot”

    The Flying Scotsman?

    Perhaps Wagner decided that a ship was more mysterious than a train.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Wagner changed the nationality of the doomed captain into Dutch when he was informed of the level of interest in classical music in Holland.

      • Jonathan Ellis says:

        No, it’s the living captain whose ship was Scottish and was changed to Norwegian. Originally named “Donald”, he changed to a more Norwegian but similar surnam of “Daland”. I believe the lead tenor (now usually known as Erik) had a different name as well.

        Wagner originally intended to name his self-sacrificing heroine after Minna Wesendonk – the woman he was currently having an affair with (her husband was apparently okay with the whole thing) – but I have read that the affair broke up, and that this was why he changed the name to Senta, although who knows where he got that name from…

  • Furzwängler says:

    Perhaps in the original the vocalists couldn’t be hear for the whining of the crew, and Wagner therefore changed the location to Norway.

  • Jonathan Ellis says:

    It’s not the Dutchman but the living ship that he encounters, that has a version in which he was Scottish, before being changed to Norwegian.

    The ghost ship was always Dutch, as is the original legend – in which he is sometimes given an actual name – Captain Vanderdecken: which is very obviously a name of Dutch or Flemish origin, the kind of surname that pertains to a job and is therefore pretty generic to sailors: “van der Decken”

  • Michael Smith says:

    Readers may be interested to know that Minkowski has recorded this version. It’s coupled with Dietsch’s Le Vaisseau Fantome.