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Thread: Wagner opera on disc.......Tannhauser

  1. #61
    Senior Member wkasimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Tannhauser's sentiments exactly.
    The earthly characters in the opera are incredibly annoying, and Tannhauser himself is an idiot for leaving Venusberg. It's not an opera that I'd ever want to see on stage, but some of the music, particularly Wolfram's, is gorgeous.

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    Senior Member D Smith's Avatar
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    Wagener: Das Rheingold. Bayreuth 1976. McIntyre, Randova, Zednik. Boulez.

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  5. #63
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    The earthly characters in the opera are incredibly annoying, and Tannhauser himself is an idiot for leaving Venusberg. It's not an opera that I'd ever want to see on stage, but some of the music, particularly Wolfram's, is gorgeous.
    It's my least favorite of Wagner's "mature" operas. It's a shame that when he replaced that drab Hausfrau, the "Dresden" Venus, with his post-Tristan Paris seductress and her orgiastic dance troupe, Wagner didn't go ahead and revise the whole opera. He did later say, "I still owe the world a Tannhauser."
    Last edited by Woodduck; Apr-10-2019 at 01:35.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    It's my least favorite of Wagner's "mature" operas. It's a shame that when he replaced that drab Hausfrau, the "Dresden" Venus, with his post-Tristan Paris seductress and her orgiastic dance troupe, Wagner didn't go ahead and revise the whole opera. He did later say, "I still owe the world a Tannhauser."
    But does (did) the world feel the same way?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Becca View Post
    But does (did) the world feel the same way?
    We might poll members on how they feel about the two versions of Tannhauser.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Smith View Post
    Wagener: Das Rheingold. Bayreuth 1976. McIntyre, Randova, Zednik. Boulez.
    This might be in the wrong thread!
    Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate!

  10. #67
    Senior Member howlingfantods's Avatar
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    This one has actually been growing on me rather a lot lately, to the point where I think I've probably listened to Tannhauser more than both Hollander and Lohengrin combined over the past year or two.

    I think this is particularly true of Sinopoli's and especially Barenboim's recordings, which both in different ways are almost purely focused on sussing out the lyrical beauty of the score. Earlier generations of conductors presented Tannhauser as if it were Tristan or Gotterdammerung--lots of Sturm and Drang, trying desperately to convince you to pay attention to the drama. That approach largely fails for me since as a dramatic construct, Tannhauser is pretty weak stuff. But as a big old feast of earcandy, there's a lot to enjoy here.

    Sinopoli and Barenboim seem to realize this in a way that many earlier didn't--they don't try to dress up the hot bimbo as a scientist--they just say, "hey, that hot bimbo is wicked hot." It might be somewhat brainless, but in their hands, that's a feature, not a bug.
    Last edited by howlingfantods; Apr-10-2019 at 23:26.

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  12. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    The earthly characters in the opera are incredibly annoying, and Tannhauser himself is an idiot for leaving Venusberg. It's not an opera that I'd ever want to see on stage, but some of the music, particularly Wolfram's, is gorgeous.
    On the surface this seems to be true. But as philosophers and theolgians have argued, change and growth and death provide the framework that gives our lives meaning. The prospect of immortality and living in a state of constant bliss may strike us as appealing, but many have argued to live forever would leave us bored with our existence and longing to die. Of course this conclusion is contrary to the belief of many of the world's religions. Wagner may be portraying something else with the scene of Tannhäuser Venusberg however; as any sex addict can attest to the fact the constant compulsion for sexual gratification becomes tedious and exhausting. Tannhäuser craves more than the satifaction of instinctual needs. He is seeking spiritual fulfillment and compassion as well, and this is what drives him from his sojourn with Venus.

    I can't say I find this opera as weak or unconvincing dramatically as others here do. True, it does not compare to what Wagner was later able to achieve dramatically through intricate symphonic development to portray pyschological connections throughout the story. Taken for what it is however, a numbers or scenes opera, I find Tannhäuser to be a captivating and fascinating work that examines such themes as alienation and isolation, society and the outsider, the quest for integration and the erotic impulse with characteristic insight and ambiguity and ultimately balances all its different styles with consummate artistry. As others have pointed out, the music is divine. This doesn't mean it is without it's flaws; as Wagner himself came to see it was perhaps his most flawed project. In the original Dresden version it is beset by a dramatic imbalance that risked swinging the audience's sympathies too far towards the spiritual and the sacred, because the erotic elements are sparce and ineffective. The extended song contest in Act II also comes across as flat and rather dull. Wagner went on to revise the Act I extensively, giving Venus' court the fulsome and overwhelming identify it needed with the new Venusberg Bacchanale music and spicing up the role of Venus herself by significantly filling out her identity. Unfortunately, between money problems, health problems, and personal problems he was not able to summon up the necessary reserves of energy to revise the other two acts to the same degree. So the revisions are tremendous, extensive and splendid in Act I, sketchier and less certain in Act II, and virtually non- existant in Act III. To my mind the last act remains the least effective and outside of Tannhäuser's Rome narrative, too lightweight musically and emotionally to balance the first two acts. It is simply too short and too compressed for so much action to be packed in. At the conclusion of the opera, in less than 3 minutes, Elizabeth's dying intercession has worked and won Tannhäuser's forgiveness; the Pope's staff has broken into green; and the young pilgrims have delivered it all the way from Rome, completing a journey that had taken Tannhäuser six months. It is not that audience members are being over-analytical and difficult as Wagner complained, it just doesn't feel right. And this probably in part gave rise to his feeling that he "“still owed Tannhäuser to the world".

    It's interesting that in the 19th century, Tannhäuser was easily his most popular opera, while today it is his least popular. Much of this might be cultural: there had been the vilification of sex as the one true original sin and demonization of the erotic and the view of woman as the embodiment of evil that perpetuated throughout Western civilization for two millennia. Tannhäuser, with the sensuality of it's music and it's celebration of the erotic proclaimed truths which were previously inamissable, overturned the denial of man's primoridial animal nature which had been a life-diminishing ordinance and sent shockwaves through European civilization. For many people today a lot of the opera's themes might come across as antiquated, and the idea of sex for its own sake as evil and sex outside marriage as wrong seems to have passed out of memory and beyond comprehension.

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