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The first twenty or so minutes are spent on a whirlwind review of Wagner's operas and personality, which hardly seems necessary in a short selection such as this. Only after that do we begin with this opera itself, which Smillie says is the perfect introduction to Wagner's work because it contains "all of the elements of his mature genius, but on a human scale."
The plot is quite simple by Wagnerian standards. A sea captain, cursed to sail the seas for all eternity, is given the possibility of reprieve. Every seven years the waves will send him back to shore. While there, if he can find a woman to be a true and faithful wife to him, he will be released from his curse. (One of Wagner's recurring themes finds its origin in this work: redemption through love).
The author discusses each leitmotif, as well as the orchestration, theme, and resolution of the plot. Overall, a good introduction.
David Timson is always a wonderful narrator. (I could listen to him read out a tax return and be enraptured). Five stars for his performance.
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