Der fliegende Holländer: the ghosts of Chittagong

El holandés errante: los fantasmas de Chittagong
El holandés errante: los fantasmas de Chittagong

Der fliegende Holländer, by Richard Wagner, will be broadcasted live, for free, in full version without interval, on Palco Digital [online opera platform] and the Teatro Real Facebook page next Friday, 23 December. It will also be broadcasted on Mezzo TV and EBU

  • Pablo Heras-Casado, principal guest conductor of the Teatro Real, conducts an opera by Wagner for the first time. 
  • Stage director Àlex Ollé  (La Fura dels Baus) places the opera in the immense merchant ship cemetery of Chittagong, in Bangladesh. 
  • The cast is formed by outstanding Wagnerian singers: Evgeny Nikitin (the Flying Dutchman), Kwangchul Youn (Daland), Ingela Brimberg (Senta), Nikolai Schukoff (Erik), Kai Rüütel (Mary), Benjamin Bruns (Daland’s steersman)

 From 17 December 2016 to 3 January 2017 the Teatro Real hosts 10 performances of a unique production of Der fliegende Holländer, by Richard Wagner (1813-1883), with a very wide diffusion, both nationally and internationally: it will be broadcast worldwide for free on Palco Digital and Facebook on 23 December and delayed coverage on Mezzo TV and France Television, as well as live streaming on Radio Clásica and the EBU – European Broadcasting Union – countries on 27 December. It will also be edited on DVD.
Inspired by a dreadful trip from Riga to London made by Wagner and his wife, Minna, plowing through the North Sea, terrified by menacing tempests, Der fliegende Holländer comes from an old legend, transformed into a tale by Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), in which a sailor has been doomed to wander the oceans until the fidelity and love of a woman release him from his curse.
Wagner’s recurring themes can be found in this opera – the fight between the earthly and the spiritual worlds, divine curses, redemption through pure love… – in a physical space: the stormy sea and an isolated coastal town – that allowed him to explore a highly inspiring sound universe: the surge, the wind, the storms or the ancestral and simple melodies. Wagner himself wrote a libretto that allowed him to blur the limits between recitatives, arias, duos and trios, while his music started exploring the development of leitmotive and modulations that would characterize his later works.  
This staging of Der fliegende Holländer conceived by Àlex Ollé (La Fura dels Baus) for the Opéra de Lyon – where it was premiered on 11 October 2014– takes the Dutchman’s drift trip on the cold waters of the North Sea to the Bay of Bengal, on the Indian Ocean, where the ship is beached on terrible Chittagong, in Bangladesh: an immense merchant ship cemetery, where they are scrapped by thousands of people, creeping around the abandoned ships, full of toxic waste and death traps.
Daland drives his ship, inhabited by spectres and ghosts – the Dutchman among them – in order to scrap her on a beach full of ship skeletons, where the disconsolate population tries to escape the tragedy of their lives: Senta dreams about a captain that rescues her, Erik longs to marry her lover, Daland wants to become rich…
This version of the opera takes place in a disturbing environment created by stage designer Alfons Flores – who often works with Àlex Ollé. Pablo Heras-Casado, principal guest conductor of the Teatro Real, conducts his first Wagner opera, backed by his previous experience in the Romantic symphonic repertoire that nourished Wagner’s music.