The broody sea captain who propels Wagner's first operatic hit, The Flying Dutchman, is trapped in an endless rerun of a demonic version of The Bachelor, where potential brides invariably lack the fidelity that can release him from his spectral fate. Trying to find true love on his once-every-seven-years' shore leave, he doesn't ask much - just a woman willing to go the extra little mile and sacrifice her life for him.
Whatever faulty lessons in human relations or spiritual fulfillment may lie behind the curious myth of The Flying Dutchman, the reality of the opera is that it can provide an awfully potent musical and theatrical voyage, given enough ballast. That it receives, handsomely, in a production by Washington National Opera unveiled Saturday night at the Kennedy Center.
If you go The Flying Dutchman will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and six more times through April 10 at the Kennedy Center, Washington. Tickets $45 to $225. Call 800-876-7372, or go to dc-opera.org.