The story of the Dutch sea-captain, cursed to wander the earth unendingly, featured three themes that were of enduring interest to Wagner: the Wanderer on his Quest, Redemption through Self-sacrifice, and Pre-destined Love.
The story is that a storm drives Daland's ship off course. A ghostly schooner arrives and its captain, the Flying Dutchman, steps ashore. He is bound to his ship as he once pledged to sail around the Cape of Good Hope if it took him forever. Once every seven years he may leave his ship in search of a woman who will save him from his deathless wandering if she is faithful until death. Daland offers his daughter Senta’s hand in marriage. As they approach the village, Senta’s suitor Erik notices she is preoccupied. He relates a frightening dream in which he saw her sail away with the Dutchman, and Senta exclaims that this is her own dream as well, and pledges her faithfulness to him. Erik is not happy and insists that Senta is his. The Dutchman, overhearing, believes himself betrayed and sets sail. Senta runs to the top of a cliff, proclaiming herself faithful unto death, and leaps into the sea. Their ghostly forms are seen together ascending to Heaven.
This is the Schirmer edition of the Libretto in the original German with an English translation by Stewart Robb.