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Close to Perfection

Arizona Opera's 'The Flying Dutchman',
enjoyed by MARIA NOCKIN


In 1841, Richard Wagner wrote a scenario on the subject of The Flying Dutchman and sold it to the Paris Opera. He had hoped to be asked to compose it, but the commission was given to Pierre-Louis-Philippe Dietsch instead. L'Opéra presented eleven performances of the latter's Le vaisseau fantôme in November of 1842, but the work was eventually eclipsed by Wagner's own opera.

Because his scenario had been used once, Wagner made a number of changes which expanded it and emphasized the idea of redemption through love that was to become prominent in some of his later works. The resulting opera, Der fliegende Holländer, was a success when it opened at the Royal Saxon Court Theater in Dresden on 2 January 1843. Although it was his fourth opera, the composer later referred to that première as the real beginning of his career.

Kristopher Irmiter as the Dutchman. Photo © 2006 Scott Humbert
Kristopher Irmiter as the Dutchman. Photo © 2006 Scott Humbert

On 24 and 25 March 2006, Arizona Opera presented its double cast production of this great work. Since the late Glynn Ross presented Wagner's Ring Cycle in Flagstaff in June of 1998, the company has offered nothing by Wagner. As a result, these performances given as a memorial to Ross were a very welcome addition to the company's usual mix of operas. Besides Arizona's German music lovers, members of Wagner societies from Northern California and the Midwest were in attendance.

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Copyright © 23 April 2006 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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