I like Wagner a great deal, and Tannhauser along with Tristan and Isolde and Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg is one of my favourites of his. The overture is one of Wagner's best overtures, and Ode to the Evening Star(or O Star of Eve) and Pilgrim's Chorus are among the best work Wagner ever wrote.
This 1982 production is truly wonderful, though if there is anything I didn't quite like it was Richard Cassily as Tannhauser(in all fairness the role is a voice-killer), I do like Cassily, but here acting-wise I don't personally find him very powerful and I find his singing at times rather pushed and nasal. He does interact well with Eva Marton, so I will give him some credit.
Everything else though is fine, with special mention going to the gorgeous costuming, striking and traditional set design, excellent video directing, and Otto Schenk's stage direction has a fair amount of realism to it. The music is brilliant and well served by some good sound, and played bombastically by the orchestra and the conducting while occasionally a little rushed is very assured.
In terms of staging, I was very taken by the opening scene especially. The performances aside from Cassily are terrific. Eva Marton is not my initial idea of Elisabeth, if I want the ideal soprano for the role aka one with more vulnerability and delicacy I would go towards Flagstead or even De Los Angeles. That said, Marton does do very well, I understand why people don't always find her compelling to watch(however I love her subtle acting) but there are some touches Marton does that I was touched by especially her genuine tears in Act 2. She does sing very powerfully too, and her Allmacht Ge Jungfrau, Hor Mein Flehen is one of the best sung arias of the production for me.
The Chorus are superb, very well balanced and pitched, the Pilgrim's Chorus has always been a big favourite and it doesn't disappoint here. If I had to pick two of the best performers of this Tannhauser, it would be the late Tatiana Troyanos(the more I hear her, the more impressed I am) as a truly thrilling Venus and Bernd Weikl who nails Wolfram and his Ode to the Evening Star comes very close to stealing the show. The underrated John Macurdy also does very well as Landgrave.
So overall, a wonderful Tannhauser. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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