MONTREAL — There really is a phantom of the opera.
Opera de Montreal presents Richard Wagner’s classic “The Flying Dutchman” for a four-performance run beginning Saturday.
The legendary story follows the captain of a phantom ship who travels the seas in search of redemption. The production is a timely nod on the part of Opera de Montreal to present a work honoring the bicentennial of the German composer’s birth — Wagner was born in 1813.
“It’s the first Richard Wagner opera that sets the pace for the rest of his tremendous body of work,” said artistic director Michel Beaulac. “Before that, the few operas he wrote were more like essays or tryouts.”
Beaulac said the early works were not that successful.
“But in terms of the development of the music, its expressionism and the theme of redemption through love, it is a work that establishes the rest of his compositions.”
The tale tells of a “very romantic” idea of love, Beaulac said. It also adds a little “salvation of humanity” to the operatic mix.
“And that’s true even today,” Beaulac said.
In it, the Dutchman is a sea captain who has been condemned to roam the cold northern seas for seven years. Every once in awhile, he is allowed to pull into a port.
“To try and find love,” Beaulac said.
The Dutchman does find love with a woman named Senta. But there’s just one problem: Senta is engaged to Erik.
“People know of the captain’s reputation for roaming the seas,” Beaulac said. “And Senta has fantasized about him as a legend. But this legend comes to life.”
When Senta discovers the Dutchman is in town, she decides that she’ll be the one to save him from damnation. In the interim, she tells her fiancé, Eric, that she is leaving him for the Dutchman. And not to give anything away, Beaulac said that while the ending is tragic, it is nonetheless positive.