The Flying Dutchman

Programming / Epic – Adventure

Every time I navigate in the middle of a storm – real or mental – the spectre of the Flying Dutchman comes back to me, as splendid as it is terrifying.
And when I see Altair sinking under the blows of the immense wave of the “gnagnagnas talks“, then I tell myself that I will end my days hanging on to the helm of my ghost ship, rising only to sink young captains who thought they were dashing.
Just as I am writing these lines, my village is drowned under waterspouts, the thunder does not stop – it feels like the end of November, when we start dreaming of the beautiful white winter of the northern countries. In the meantime, the waters are rising, the storm is raging and the Dutchman appears in my thoughts.

Everybody knows the story of The Flying Dutchman, it has crossed the centuries since the red times of the pirates and buccaneers.
The Dutchman is part of their legend, in his way he was one of them – his fast ship, his crew of ferocious ghosts that lure you to the seabed.

There was, in the warm seas of the Caribbean, a cursed triangle, the Bermuda Triangle.
This cursed triangle killed one of my heroes, Captain Jean Mermoz flying aboard La Croix Du Sud. Thus, I don’t like this triangle and I hate Bermuda. Toc. And the Dutchman is supposed to haunt these waters in particular, because they would be cursed at least as much as he was.

However, the first appearance of the Flying Dutchman dates back to 1790 – it was an English captain who brought him back. In 1821, the first version of the story: the shipwreck would have taken place off the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Okay, this is no longer the triangle. It’s true, I slipped a little bit from the Caribbean pirates to the Dutchman – well, a few miles, and “we” had seen him in the waters of the Sargasso, when we returned without a boat.
The sea was bad, the winds were contrary. The captain was drunk and singing bawdy songs. His crew begged him to turn the boat around. He didn’t care. They mutinied. But the huge captain threw the leader of the mutineers overboard.
And there they were all cursed, condemned to roam the seas, appearing at the height of the storms to sow death and desolation.

– The heartthrob is in Pirate of the Caribbean. This is a much more recent version. Because it was necessary to find a way to break the curse: the captain, once every 7 years, must find the love of a faithful woman.
what people are mysogines! 😀
I am faithful to whom I love. And why would I go to love a poor guy covered with shells????

And of course, for the legend to be complete, many real testimonies report the existence of this ghost ship. Even the future King of England George V claimed to have seen it.

A story like this can only inspire the whole world – and there has been no shortage of them.
So, in my (for the moment rather meager) category of “epic & adventure” shows there is bound to be The Flying Dutchman.

And the one who knew how to give him all his epic power for a stage is quite obvious: it’s Richard Wagner.
Listen to this:

Directed by Alex Ollé / La Fura dels Baus. – 2015
Act 1, Open air perf. Aura River, Turku.Dir Erik Söderblom – 2015 – the staging is…. I love it.
San Fransisco Opera – excerpts.

Can you imagine hearing them, these sailors, around you? All in full voice? This is the great strength of opera, which no video can restore: the power of the presence of voices, which really touch you, without metaphor.

Here’s a fairly recent full version – I like some of the staging.

Finnish National Opera –

Quite frankly, I have enough to feed a whole bunch of spin-off productions for virtual reality and video games – it’s obvious : it’s an epic show.

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Featured Image : The supposed Flying Dutchman – author unknown (well… not found – sorry).

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