Award-winning touring company OperaUpClose and orchestra Manchester Camerata have teamed up on a new production of Wagner’s iconic The Flying Dutchman (Der fliegende Holländer, 1843). This version will see the Dutchman radically re-imagined for four singers and an eight-piece chamber ensemble. It is set to premiere and tour the UK in autumn 2022.
Wagner’s opera – he wrote the libretto as well as composing the music – is based on German writer Heinrich Heine’s retelling of the legend of the ghost ship, The Flying Dutchman, in his 1833 satirical novel The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski (Aus den Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski). The legendary ship is said to never be able to make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever.
It tells the story of a Dutch sea captain (a bass-baritone role) cursed to sail forever for blasphemy. He and his ghostly sailors capture and board a Norwegian vessel captained by a man named Daland (bass). The Dutchman can only be redeemed by the love of a faithful woman, so on learning that Daland has an unmarried daughter, Senta (a soprano), he asks for her hand in marriage, offering a chest of treasure as a gift. Tempted by gold, Daland agrees to the marriage.
Directed by Lucy Bradley, this ground-breaking re-working will have a new orchestration by composer Laura Bowler and a new English libretto by librettist, novelist and poet Glyn Maxwell. The production marks OperaUpClose’s first staging of a Wagner opera.
“This exciting partnership between OperaUpClose and Manchester Camerata will combine the two organisations’ expertise and creativity to distil the essence of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman into a new narrative and sound world with its own artistic integrity and identity,” OperaUpClose said in a statement.
“Working together, we aim to create a new piece which pushes the boundaries of opera, speaking to contemporary experiences through a centuries-old myth and a 19th-century masterpiece, enabling audiences to discover this extraordinary opera for the first time or to experience it anew.”
“This is an ideal partnership between OperaUpClose and Manchester Camerata as organisationally we each put innovation at heart of everything we do and have a long history of redefining our craft.”
In order to create this innovative new version of the opera, the two organisations are running a series of extensive research and development workshops. These began in July 2021 at The Monastery, Manchester, the home of Manchester Camerata. OperaUpClose is planning on making some of these workshops, along with discussions and conversations, available to view for free on the company’s website and YouTube channel.
“We’ll be turning our increased familiarity with digital platforms to good use to give you unique access to the development of the production, from the earliest stages of the creative and planning process,” the company continued.
Two films are available to watch now. In the first, Epic and Domestic, composer Laura Bowler, pianist Kelvin Lim, mezzo-soprano Flora McIntosh and OperaUpClose’s Artistic Director Robin Norton-Hale discuss opera, inspiration and process. The talk ranges from the depiction of the natural world – particularly the sea – in music to how, despite Wagner’s reputation as a composer on the grandest of scales, there is also much intimacy in his work.
The second, In Conversation with Glyn Maxwell, sees the award-winning poet, novelist and librettist talking to Norton-Hale about his work, his process and his ongoing relationship with Wagner’s mythical masterpiece.
The videos are available now and are free to watch. More will be added as the workshops continue throughout the year. Further details on dates, venues and prices for the autumn 2022 premiere and tour of The Flying Dutchman are yet to be announced.
OperaUpClose and Manchester Camerata are teaming up to produce a new English-language version of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman.