Tuesday, February 17, 2015


Richard Wagner was inspired by nature for Tannhauser as in the case of the Flying Dutchman. When Wagner visited Wartburg in April 1842, he spent many months near a mountain ridge which he called `Horselberg'. This is where he completed most of this opera. This work was originally labelled as 'Der Venusberg'. It was changed in 1845 to 'Tannhauser und der Saugerkrieg auf der Wartburg'. He revised the score a couple of years later and changed the finale among many other things that included the addition of Venus and the funeral procession for the departed Elisabeth instead of a mere announcement of her death and it came to be known as the Dresden edition. It was revised once again in March 1861 and it came to be considered as the Paris version. The difference between these versions is that the initial two scenes were expanded through a Bacchanale with a pantomime written on a large scale. It also called for a ballet in the second act. Walther's song was also added in the second act. The Paris version brought out a nice contrast between the chromatic and the diatonic. The use of incidental music and choruses is also unique in this opera. It is surprising to note that Tannhauser was performed for the first time in Bayreuth in 1891. This performance took place in July 1994 during he opera festival of the Bavarian State at the Munich national Theater. This is a modern staging of Wagner's opera. It is a deeply passionate performance by Zubin Mehta but it will fall in line after Sir Georg Solti's Paris version, Wilhelm Furtwangler and Sir Colin Davis' interpretations. Must have been exciting for the people who attended this Munich Opera Festival. http://youtu.be/Izyg-fhQ0E8

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