For his production of "The Flying Dutchman", premiered in 1978, Harry
Kupfer chose the original Dresden version of 1843, which has a rougher,
more muscular texture than the subsequent editions. When "The Flying
Dutchman" was performed in Zurich and Munich, Wagner himself revised the
work, softening the instrumentation and appending the "redemption"
conclusions to the overture and the third act. What was the reason for the
heated disputes which took place between the conservative Bayreuth
Wagnerians and the more progressive lovers of the composer's music? Harry
Kupfer's production presents the entire story of the Flying Dutchman as a
hallucination, a figment of Senta's disturbed imagination. She is seen by
the director as a highly neurotic, even schizophrenic young girl, whose
yearning for the eternally wandering Dutchman puts her into a trance-like
state, in which her own internal drama is acted out in the form of a
vision. By having the character leap through the window to her death at the
end of the opera, Harry Kupfer has placed a highly personal interpretation
on Wagner's notion of "redemption".