English Synopsis

The Flying Dutchman – From the Program

The National Theater of Iceland, May 2002

Act I

A violent storm rages. Daland’s ship casts anchor, only a few miles from home. Captain and crew go below decks to rest, the Steersman is to keep watch. The Flying Dutchman’s vessel looms into view, but the Steersman does not notice it. The Dutchman has been sailing the seas for hundreds of years, condemned by an act of blasphemy. He longs for liberation from his curse through death, but he can not only hope of redemption is through the love of a faithful woman. He is permitted to make landfall once every seven years to seek this love. He offers Daland treasure for one night’s hospitality, and finds out that Daland has a daughter. Impressed by the stranger’s wealth, who merely identifies himself as „Dutchman“, Daland promises his daughter to him.

Act II

A room in Daland’s house. The women are spinning on their spindles, anxiously waiting for the homecoming of their sweethearts, who are at sea with Daland. Senta alone is lost in contemplation of the Flying Dutchman’s portrait. Mary, Senta’s nurts, has often told her his story, and Senta has been obsessed with it from childhood. Now Senta tells the women the story. Erik, the hunter, arrives and announces that Daland’s ship is nearing port. Erik, hoping for marriage with Senta, asks her to speak in his favour to her father. A stranger (the Dutchman) arrives with Daland, who attempts to introduce the Dutchman to Senta as her bridegroom to be. They cautiously approach each other. Senta recognises the stranger as the Fiying Dutchman. The Dutchman is fascinated by Senta. Both agree to the betrothal.


The sailors are happy to be home and celebrate with their women. They invite the Dutchman’s crew to join them, but without response. Ghostlike voices are heard from the ship and the sailors flee. Senta appears, dressed in a wedding gown. Erik begs her to be faithful to him. Compassionate towards her friend, Senta embraces him. The Dutchman arrives and believes that once again he has been betrayed, but declares that Senta will nevertheless not be condemned to eternal damnation, as the other countless victims. He reveals his identity as the „Flying Dutchman“ and his boat heads out to sea. Senta swears that she will be true to him until death, and leaps into the sea.