In Act II of Wagner's Flying Dutchman, the sea captain Daland has just walked into his home on the rugged Norwegian coast following a harrowing voyage with a near-fatal landing, as we witnessed in Act I. Here bass Karl Ridderbusch as Daland exhorts his daughter, Senta, to welcome the guest he's brought home with him (from a Rome Radio broadcast performance conducted by Wolfgang Sawallisch, February 15, 1969).
DALAND: Would you, my child, bid this stranger welcome?
A sailor is he, like me; he asks our hospitality.
Long without homeland, always on far, long journeys,
in foreign lands he has gained great wealth.
Banished from his fatherland,
for a home he will pay richly.
Say, Senta, would it displease you
if this stranger stays with us?
[SENTA nods her approval. DALAND turns to the DUTCHMAN.]
Say, did I praise her too much?
You see her yourself -- does she please you?
Should I let my praises yet overflow?
Admit, she is an ornament to her sex.
[The DUTCHMAN makes a gesture of approval.]
Would you, my child, show yourself well-disposed to this man?
He also asks for the beautiful gift of your heart.
If you give him your hand, you are to call him bridegroom.
If you heed your father, tomorrow he'll be your husband.
[SENTA makes a convulsive, painful movement. DALAND produces some jewelry and shows it to his daughter.]
See this ring, see these bracelets!
What he owns makes this meager.
Mustn't you, dear child, long for it?
It's yours if you exchange rings.
[SENTA, without paying any attention to him, doesn't take her eyes off the DUTCHMAN, who likewise, without listening to DALAND, is absorbed in contemplating her. DALAND becomes aware of this; he looks at them both.]
But neither speaks . . . Am I not wanted here?
So it is! I'd best leave them alone.
[To SENTA] May you win this noble man!
Believe me, such look won't happen again.
[To the DUTCHMAN] Stay here alone! I'll go away.
Believe me, however beautiful, she is that faithful.
[He goes out slowly, watching them both with pleased surprise. SENTA and the DUTCHMAN are alone. Long pause.]
This week's post has come about in an even more than usually roundabout way, triggered by a comment I was startled to encounter online about a performance by the bass we just heard, Karl Ridderbusch -- a comment so bizarrely off the mark that it made me wonder whether it tells us something about the way at least some latter-day listeners hear singing.
The comment pertained to Ridderbusch's first commercial recording of King Heinrich in Wagner's Lohengrin, but it soon occurred to me that the discussion should be expanded to include his Daland in The Flying Dutchman as well. Then it occurred to me that the discussion might more sensibly begin with The Flying Dutchman, and finally it occurred to me that we could hardly have a more appropriate subject for the Father's Day weekend.
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE PIECES I'VE BEEN KNOWN
TO LISTEN TO OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN
I confess that I adore this little set piece. And listening to it over and over and over again is essentially what we're going to do in tonight's preview. We'll hear it first a solid all-around performance at what I would call a moderate tempo. Then, since it does lend itself to a surprisingly wide range of pacings, we'll hear a couple of distinctly different alternatives.
WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman": Act II, Aria, Daland, "Mögst du, mein Kind, dem fremden Mann Willkommen heissen?" ("Would you, my child, bid this stranger welcome?")
Gottlob Frick (bs), Daland; Staatskapelle Berlin, Franz Konwitschny, cond. EMI-Deutsche Schallplatten, recorded 1959
Now here it is again, a little quicker:
Matti Salminen (bs), Daland; Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Woldemar Nelsson, cond. Philips, recorded 1985
And here it is, quite a bit slower (we have to give credit to our soloist for sustaining the arduous pace):
Martti Talvela (bs), Daland; New Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, cond. EMI, recorded Feb.-Mar. 1968
AFTERTHOUGHT: I CAN'T BELIEVE WE'VE NEVER
HEARD THE FLYING DUTCHMAN OVERTURE
Now that we've heard that orchestral postlude to Daland's aria, setting the stage for the Dutchman-Senta scene, and therefore pregnant with Dutchman and Senta thematic material, we really ought to hear the Overture, and I don't find any audio files that I've made for it (not counting the ones we'll be hearing Sunday, that is). I tried to add this pair of flavorful performances last night, but the online deities balked.
WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman: Overture
Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Bruno Walter, cond. Columbia-CBS-Sony, recorded Feb. 20, 1959
Munich Philharmonic, Hans Knappertsbusch, cond. Westminster-MCA, recorded November 1962
IN THIS WEEK'S "SPECIAL FATHER'SDAY EDITION" OF SUNDAY CLASSICS --
We'll have a more proper introduction to Daland, and the music that brings him to life, and the singer who in my experience has done so most vividly.