I have two copies of this opera on CD, and just purchased the DVD of this performance to replace my VHS copy. The VHS is two tapes, and I kept them cued to the scenes with the pilgrims at the roadside shrine in Acts I and III ... now I can jump right to them on the single DVD.
This is a fine performance for introducing someone to opera. The subtitles provided are sufficient to keep up with the action without getting in the way of the singing. OTOH, a good opera guide, or a CD version with the full libretto in both English and German, is necessary for full appreciation of the story.
Although the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon "What's Opera Doc?" visually uses elements of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" (Bugs as Brunhilde, Elmer Fudd has a spear and magic helment), the musical themes are mostly from "Tannhäuser" ... you'll be surprised how much of this music you recognize, even if you've never seen or heard this opera before.
Good camera work, capturing the action on the Met stage from several angles... the costumes are great, and the opening "orgy" scene in Venusburg is delightfully choreographed. If I had to reduce my collection of videos and DVDs to only ten, this would be one of them.
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