This activity requires no preparation other than attendance at the Live in HD transmission of Der Fliegende Holländer.
- To review students’ understanding of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Holländer
- To deepen students’ thinking about the opera’s themes
- To broaden students’ awareness of how these themes are explored in other stories and media
- To foster students’ communication skills and encourage their creative responses to the Live in HD experience
COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
Students will enjoy starting the class with an open discussion of the Met performance. What did they like? What didn’t they like? Did anything surprise them? What would they like to see or hear again? This discussion should be an opportunity for students to review their performance activity sheets and express their thoughts about the visual design of the Met production, the singers’ performances, and Der Fliegende Holländer’s music and story.
These Are a Few of My Favorite Themes
Der Fliegende Holländer may be a ghost story, but the themes running through the opera are all deeply human. The need to love and be loved, the longing for a community, the loneliness of being an outsider: These themes flow like a swift current through numerous works of literature and art.
The final activity in this guide, These Are a Few of My Favorite Themes, will create a space for your students to both deepen and broaden their thinking about Der Fliegende Holländer’s story and themes. Begin by dividing your class into groups of three to four students and assign each group one of the themes listed below; you may wish to write the themes on pieces of paper ahead of time and have each group draw a piece of paper from a bowl or hat. (Alternatively, you can invite students to come up with their own list of themes.) Each group should discuss why this theme is important in Der Fliegende Holländer, as well as which parts of the opera represent Wagner’s treatment of this theme.
- A story in which someone must choose between a fantasy world and reality
- A story in which someone has to choose between two people they love
- A story in which someone can save someone else by promising to love them forever
- A story in which someone tells a story and nobody else believes them
- A story in which someone is called “crazy” even though they really aren’t
Next, ask students to identify another story they know that involves the same theme. Students may choose a story from any medium: novels, movies or TV shows, comic books or graphic novels, podcasts, video games, etc. Moreover, while the selected story may be a fairy tale or some other story involving magic, students are by no means required to stick to “magical” stories. Once students have selected a story, they should compare this chosen story to Der Fliegende Holländer. Do the two stories treat this theme the same way? Why or why not? Finally, ask each group to share their story and a few of their observations with the class. How many different stories did the class identify?