Leaves of Regeneration
Wagner's 'Tannhäuser' -
'... a subtlety no other house can match.'
Wagner went to his garden grave convinced he owed the world a revised Tannhäuser, and
to a certain extent grandson Wolfgang has provided it. In Wagner's day the overture was such a hit
he dared not tinker with it in any of his versions. Wolfgang has no such inhibitions. Pilgrims start
wandering round about the simple set staff in hand after only a dozen bars, making little progress
towards their Roman goal. But of course they make a tactful disappearance as soon as Venus whips up
the music. Gestures of her entourage were wild enough to entrance me from beginning to end, but
Tannhäuser was uncivil enough to sleep throughout, stretched in sublime unconcern by Venus's
[watch and listen -- DVD1 chapter 2, 5:58-7:40].
The opening of the 1989 Bayreuth 'Tannhäuser'. DVD screenshot © 1990 Unitel
Copyright © 11 February 2007
Robert Anderson, London UK