Der fliegende Holländer

Fritz Reiner
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
30 December 1950
Metropolitan Opera New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
DalandSven Nilsson
SentaAstrid Varnay
ErikSet Svanholm
MaryHerta Glaz
Der Steuermann DalandsThomas Hayward
Der HolländerHans Hotter
Corliss Phillabaum

One of Rudolf Bing’s initiatives when he became General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera was to recruit major conductors for the house. Among them Fritz Reiner had an especially strong impact during the five years he spent there and this 1950 matinee performance of Der fliegende Holländer is a fine example of his work there. From beginning to end the music is eloquent and exciting and the singers respond with committed and intense performances. This seems to be the only live document of Hans Hotter’s Dutchman and it is memorable. Along with his commanding vocal presence there is a spontaneous sense of interaction with the other singers that leaps off the discs, even in the limited (but well restored) mono sound of the Met’s archival transcription. As in Bayreuth a few years later, Astrid Varnay offers a superbly sung and dramatically powerful Senta, and tenor Set Svanholm brings power and dignity to the tricky role of Erik. It takes a few minutes for the ear to adjust to the limited range and dead acoustic of the recorded sound, but the performance soon takes over and casts its spell. All of the recorded documents of Hotter’s Dutchman confirm his stature in the role, but this live performance is the most eloquent and spontaneous of all.

Penguin Guide

Dating from December 1950, the Naxos historical version offers a radio recording of a searingly dramatic performance under Fritz Reiner with a cast as starry as one could imagine. Reiner’s conducting is urgent and intense from start to finish, with Hans Hotter in his prime as the Dutchman, uniquely characterful and fresher and more cleanly focused vocally than he became later. His towering performance is matched by the masterly singing of Astrid Varnay as Senta, with the great ballad bringing pinging attack and precision over the widest intervals. She, too, was in her prime, with her voice pure and clear only occasionally acquiring as edge on top, largely thanks to the recording. Svanholm with his clear heroic tenor makes a powerful, warmly expressive Erik, and Sven Nilsson is a strong, firm Daland. Although the solo voices are balanced closer, the chorus and orchestra add to the power of the performance, despite the limitations of the original recording on 7 ½ -inch tape, taken off the air.

User Rating
Media Type/Label
UORC, Raritas
Naxos, Sony, Arlecchino, Arkadia, Line, OOA, TOL
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Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 303 MByte (MP3)
Matinee broadcast
A production by Herbert Graf (1950)
Hotter’s only live performance as the Dutchman.