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After spending a period in Venusberg (Venus Mountain) in profane love with the goddess Venus, the Minnesinger and poet Tannhäuser feels satisfied and longs for freedom. Before leaving the caverns, Tannhäuser is cursed by Venus and returns to his homeland where he is welcomed by five minstrels. His friend Wolfram tells that the Landgrave's niece Elisabeth misses him and lost her interest in music. He meets Elisabeth, and her uncle, who raised her like a daughter, decides to celebrate his return with a festival with a song contest. When the Landgrave tells that the theme is the nature of love, Wolfram and the other minstrels sing about the sacred love. However Tannhäuser mocks them and tells that only who had been in Venusberg is capable to tell the real nature of love. Tannhäuser is loathed and the men want to kill him, however Elisabeth protects Tannhäuser and saves him. He promises to seek atonement in Rome and joins a group of pilgrims while Elisabeth prays for him. When the ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The greatness of Wagner's opera shows through in this recording of Tannahauser by the Teatro San Pedro. On the plus side, Patricio Saudelli is very expressive and suitable in both the singing and acting departments, the rest of the cast is quite adequate too, and Gustav Kuhn's interpretation of the music is very powerful. However, the orchestra has rather too many ill-tuned moments, and there are also a few stiff performances (including in the role of Venus).
The stage director, Erner Herzog, is famous as a director of films. Perhaps he is justly so (though I wouldn't necessarily say so based on the one film of his I have seen, his glacial and generally far inferior remake of F. W. Murnau's "Nosferatu"), but he is woefully inadequate as a director of operas. In almost all the scenes the performers seem to have been instructed to stand in a straight line while singing their parts, occasionally wander aimlessly a bit, and do nothing else. There are even instances where characters are supposed to be playing instruments which are reflected in the score, and actors are allow to stand holding the instruments with even pretending to play them. It's flat and dull, and almost looks as if there had been no director at all.
My compliments must go to the designer of the set and costumes, though. Those are simple but gorgeous and very suitable (though the Act III set unfortunately doesn't seem to film very well).
This production is probably adequate for most purposes, but I would definitely try another Tannhauser on film next time.
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