Driven by a violent storm to take shelter, Daland anchors his ship in
the bay of Sandwike, some miles from his home port. Leaving his
Steersman on watch, Daland and his crew go to rest. The Steersman, to
keep himself awake, sings a ballad. But eventually he falls asleep. A
strange ship appears. Its captain, the legendary Flying Dutchman, sings
of the curse upon him. Once he swore he would try to round a cape even
if it took until eternity; the devil took him at his word: his rate is
now to sail unceasingly until the Day of Judgment unless he can find a
woman "faithful unto death". Every seven years he may come ashore to
search for one, and the time has now come again.
Daland returns to the deck, sees the strange ship and rouses the
Steersman. They hail it but are met with silence. Daland meets the
Dutchman, who tells him of his wanderings and asks for Daland´s
friendship and hospitality. In return he can offer untold riches. When
the Dutchman discovers Daland has a daughter he asks to marry her.
Daland is delighted. The Dutchman wonders whether this woman will be
his saviour. A southerly wind has sprung up and Daland´s crew prepare
to set sail, the Dutchman promising to follow.
Senta´s friends are singing as they spin. Senta
takes no part in the work, preferring to gaze at a picture of the
Flying Dutchman. Mary reproaches her for idleness and the women mock
her for her obsession with the Dutchman, particularly when she has a
lover, Erik. Senta asks Mary to sing the ballad of the Dutchman; she
refuses, so Senta sings it herself.
The women are moved by the story. Senta declares that she will be
the woman to bring salvation to the doomed Dutchman. Everyone is
horrified, including Erik, who overheard her. He tells them Daland´s
ship is returning. Mary says the picture will be thrown out when Daland
The women leave to prepare for the sailors´ arrival.
Erik begs Senta to be faithful to him but she is anxious to go and
meet her father. Erik wishes she would forget the picture and the
ballad. Senta is unmoved by his self-pity; the Dutchman´s sorrow cuts
through her. Erik dreamt of a strange ship: Senta´s father and a
stranger approached and Erik recognized the stranger as the Dutchman;
Senta embraced him and sailed away with him. Senta is now convinced
that the Dutchman is seeking her and it is her fate to save him. Erik
leaves in despair.
Daland arrives with the Dutchman. He is puzzled that his daughter
has not greeted him in the usual way. She is transfixed by the visitor.
Daland asks her to offer him hospitality and urges her to marry him. He
leaves the two alone, commending their respective virtues.
The Dutchman and Senta are entranced, each contemplating the
fulfilment of their dreams. Senta, overwhelmed by his suffering, saying
she will be his salvation.
The Dutchman warns her of the sacrifices she must make if she is
to be one to him for ever. But she says she will be true until death.
Daland returns. He is overjoyed that there is now an engagement to celebrate.
The sailors are having a party. The women arrive
with food and drink and take some to the stranger´s ship. But there is
no response to their calls. The sailors continue their festivities.
Suddenly the Dutchman´s crew come to life. The Norwegians flee in
Senta appears with Erik, who is broken-hearted and reproachful. He
pleads with her to remember her promises to him. The Dutchman is
listening, and believes Senta unfaithful to him. He will return to the
sea, never return to land, and forego his salvation. Senta begs him to
stay but Erik wants her to let the Dutchman go. He tells her he will
not let her fall victim to his curse, as have countless women in the
раst: all have sworn fidelity to him and broken their oaths; eternal
damnation is their reward.
Senta will be saved for she has not sworn fidelity to him before
God. She maintains she has always known both his identity and destiny.
Erik calls for help. The Dutchman reveals his identity, boards his ship
end leaves. In есstasy Senta calls out to him and throws herself in to
the sea The ship founders.
The Dutchman is set free.