I love Wagner's music, and Tannhauser is just another of his masterpieces. However I was disappointed in this production. I had seen the 1982 production previously, and while I wasn't a fan of Richard Cassily I was thrilled to bits with the production.
Pros: Wagner's magnificent music, especially the Overture and Ode to the Evening Star. There were at least three excellent performances too. Bernd Weikl is not at his best, like with Jokhanaan, Hans Sachs and Amfortas, but he still makes for a sonorous and commanding Wolfram(thankfully with not much of the barking heard with his Kurwenal four years after this), and Nadine Secunde a truly touching Elisabeth, like the character should be. The best of the cast though was Waltraud Meier's vocally superb and dramatically thrilling Venus, not to mention she is a woman of considerable sensuality. Brian Large's video directing is exemplary.
Cons: Visually, aside from the video directing, it is a mess. The sets are the epitome of banality and the costumes are often grotesque. The staging is bizarre and confused, full of slow-motion melodrama and I found the depictions of Venusberg and Wartburg rather distorted, Venusberg now like a dystopia and Wartburg a ruin both morally and physically. Sadly, I also didn't care for Mehta's conducting, the orchestra do what they can under him, but Mehta's work here seemed uninspired and almost completely without heart, a far cry from his excellent Il Trovatore, Tosca and La Fanciulla Del West recordings, or for Rene Kollo's(a fine artist in his prime, the 70s) Tannhauser, who sounded wobbly and strained and looked stiff.
Overall, has some great singing, but overall disappointing considering the opera. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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