MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Hell, Paradise, and Parody

Getting in the mood for Seattle Opera’s upcoming Dutchman production.

MEMETERIA by Thomas May

The Flying Dutchman by Albert Pinkham Ryder (c. 1896)The Flying Dutchman by Albert Pinkham Ryder (c. 1896)

Here’s a piece I wrote for San Francisco Opera’s new production of The Flying Dutchman – a look into Wagner’s attraction to the source material he used for his breakthrough opera:

“…[T]he faithful woman hurls herself into the sea and the curse on the Flying Dutchman is lifted, he is redeemed, and we see the ghostly ship sinking to the bottom of the sea. The moral of this piece, for women, is that they should beware of marrying a Flying Dutchman; and we men should draw from it the lesson that women, at best, will be our undoing.”

It might not be unreasonable to assume this quotation comes from a critic hostile to Wagner. Or perhaps it represents a merry ribbing of the unintended absurdities that never seem far from the surface in his operas, a la Anna Russell? (“The scene…

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