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MARIA NOCKIN introduces
San Diego Opera's new season


On 26 January 2008, San Diego Opera opens its 2008 season with a traditional production of Richard Wagner's great masterpiece, Tannhäuser. The title role will be sung by the American-born tenor, Robert Gambill, who has made it his signature role. He has already performed it in the major opera houses of Germany, France, Spain and Italy. Making her San Diego début as his lover, the goddess Venus, is Grammy-winning mezzo-soprano, Petra Lang, who has also sung leading roles in all the capitals of the opera world.

When asked about this opera she says:
'In my opinion, Tannhäuser is about a man who really cannot make choices. He does not know what kind of woman he wants for a life partner. He cannot decide between a sensual, erotic woman with whom he would have a wonderful sexual relationship and a pure, virgin-like woman, with good 'household skills' whom he might have to protect, but with whom he can find love on a higher level. For him, the perfect answer would be a combination of both women. But, isn't this the dream of most men? I think that Venus and Elisabeth just represent these two sides of the female character. In Act II, Wolfram sings about the Abendstern or Evening Star meaning Elisabeth, but that star is the planet Venus. You see, that there are even more possible connections.'

'In this production we will see two different women with different character traits, which is also good vocal strategy on the part of the composer. The sensual, warm dark colored voice of Venus contrasts with the pure, cool and bright voice of Elisabeth. I enjoy singing Venus immensely. It is a short, but very difficult role with many high notes. It is great fun! I just love her!'

A scene from Tannhäuser, depicting Gunther Schneider-Siemssen's Metropolitan Opera production. Photo © Marty Sohl
A scene from Tannhäuser, depicting Gunther Schneider-Siemssen's Metropolitan Opera production. Photo © Marty Sohl

Finnish soprano, Camilla Nylund, has the sweet silvertoned voice for Elisabeth, a role that she has sung at Dresden's Semper Oper. The robust voiced Canadian baritone, Russell Braun, will sing the 'Hymn to the Evening Star' as Tannhäuser's friend, Wolfram.

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Copyright © 27 January 2008 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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