Der fliegende Holländer, The Flying Dutchman, is a German-language opera, with libretto and music by Richard Wagner.
The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port, doomed to sail the oceans forever. It probably originates from 17th century nautical folklore. The oldest extant version dates to the late 18th century. Sightings in the 19th and 20th centuries reported the ship to be glowing with ghostly light.
Wagner claimed in his 1870 autobiography Mein Leben that he had been inspired to write the opera following a stormy sea crossing he made from Riga to London in July and August 1839. The central theme is redemption through love. Because he once invoked Satan, the ghost captain is cursed to roam the sea forever without rest. An angel brought to him the terms of his redemption: every seven years the waves will cast him upon the shore; if he can find a wife who will be true to him he will be released from his curse.
Wagner conducted the premiere at the Semper Oper in Dresden in 1843.
This live recording from 1985 stars Simon Estes as the Dutchman. Woldemar conducts the Bayreuth Festival orchestra and chorus.