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The Flying Dutchman

If you encountered a ship at sea with red sails and a black mast...

 In 2013, the world of music commemorates several important anniversaries, including the 200th anniversary of the birth of the German composer, Richard Wagner, whose works changed and revolutionised the form of the opera genre forever. Wagner’s inspiration to write an opera about a cursed ship came from Heinrich Heine’s book, Aus den Memoiren des Herren von Schnabelewopski (The Memoirs of Mister von Schnabelewopski), which introduced the nautical legend of the Flying Dutchman. He was equally inspired by his personal experience of a treacherous and stormy sea journey sailing on the ship, Thetis, which lasted several days. It is said that this frightening experience inspired Wagner’s overture to the opera. With The Flying Dutchman, Wagner finally embarked on writing musical drama, which is so typical of his later works. The premiere took place under the baton of the composer in Dresden in 1843. The first Czech production of The Flying Dutchman was in 1856 at the Estates Theatre conducted by František Škroup and today this work is one of Wagner’s most frequently presented operas on Czech opera stages.

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