Wagner’s second mature opera, Tannhauser has long divided listeners. For some, it is the first great flowering of his talents, with a stunning mastery of words and music – listen to the Pilgrim’s Chorus, or Wolfram’s Act III aria, and it can be difficult to disagree. For others, its four and a half hour runtime features unpalatable longueurs, the result of the young composer still finding his way. What is undeniable, though, is that Tannhauser marks a significant step on the way to the composer’s later masterpieces. Wagner’s great theme, the dichotomy between spirituality and sensuality, receives its first airing here. And it was his first opera to delve into the continent’s rich medieval folklore, replete with knights, meistersinger competitions and Pagan deities. As such, it has often been directed as a period romp.
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For his 2010 production , director Tim Albery (Peter Grimes)
went down a radically different path, transplanting the action to a debris-strewn
wasteland and making use of meta-theatrical techniques. The result opens out the modernity of Wagner’s tale of
romanticism versus eroticism, emphasising the psychology of the titular
hero. This revival is a welcome
return, a steady highlight of the Royal Opera’s spring season.
Under the reliable baton of conductor Hartmut Haenchen, a stellar cast will join the Royal Opera Chorus, many of whom are known as much for their recital work as their stage appearances. Tenor Peter Seiffert takes over the title role, with soprano Emma Bell as his ill-fated true love Elisabeth. Mezzo Sophie Koch (Werther) should make a vibrant Venus. Most excitingly, baritone Christian Gerhaher, Wigmore Hall favourite, takes the contemplative part of Wolfram. When he appeared in the initial production, Gerhaher commanded critical adulation and won an Olivier Award. Don’t miss this chance to watch see one of the world’s finest recitalists take to the stage.
|What||Tannhauser, Royal Opera House|
|Where||Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
26 Apr 16 – 15 May 16, 6:00 PM – 10:20 PM
|Website||Click here to book via the Royal Opera House|