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Tannhauser


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Tannhauser + Wagner - Lohengrin (remastered) + Wagner - Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg / Heppner, Mattila, Morris, Pape, Allen, Polenzani, Levine, Metropolitan Opera
Price for all three: $98.68

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Product Details

  • Actors: Heinz Feldhoff, Gwyneth Jones, Franz Mazura, John Pickering, Robert Schunk
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: German (DTS 5.1), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: August 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 188 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001A5REB2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,782 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

"Conducted by Sir Colin Davis, the score is interpreted splendidly." (The New York Times) Gwyneth Jones bravely tackles the roles of both Elisabeth and Venus with glorious tone and splendid stage presence. This 1978 production from Bayreuth was directed by Götz Friedrich, and includes choreography by John Neumeier with stage designs by Jürgen Rose. The controversial production shocked many opera patrons while ushering in a new age of Wagner interpretation.

Amazon.com

This video of Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the 1978 Bayreuth Festival makes for an outstanding DVD. The Festival’s staging, by Götz Friedrich, is simplicity itself: a dish platform with a minimum of clutter, vaguely medieval costumes, and atmospheric lighting delineate the narrative of the eponymous errant knight whose soul is saved by the prayers of a pure woman who loves him. Wagner returned to this theme again and again, but Friedrich’s staging and the video direction of Thomas Oloffson make a story that many modern viewers find hard to take seriously hit home. The production’s stress on Tannhäuser’s anguish and Elizabeth’s devotion creates an intimacy that trumps productions focused more on pageantry or inappropriate modernization of time and place. Friedrich sees Tannhäuser as a loner, an artist outcast in a society whose primary value is conformity, adding further tension to the tale. The first Act is set in the Venusberg, the subterranean haunt of Venus and her cohorts whose worship of unbridled pleasure is equated here with death and damnation. The scene is darkly lit with Venus in her mask and fright outfit looming above the rest, and the Bacchanal, choreographed and filmed by John Neumeier, now seems just a tame modern dance set-piece, with writhing dancers in scanty (but not too scanty) costumes.

But what makes this Tannhäuser outstanding is the singing of the soloists and Colin Davis’ inspired conducting of the Bayreuth forces, chorus and orchestra singing and playing with energy and nuance. Gwyneth Jones takes on both of the female leads, Venus and Elizabeth. Her Venus is good, though one might prefer a singer with a stronger bottom register, and her Elizabeth is sung beautifully. Her big arias, Dich teure Halle and >i>Allmächt’ge Jungfrau are sing with the intensity she displays in her acting. Time and again the camera focuses on her subtle facial and body movements that reveal the characters’ thoughts. In effect, she’s acting three roles here, the imperious Venus of Act One, the innocent young Elizabeth of Act Two, and the stricken, disheveled girl of Act Three. Tenor Spas Wenkoff matches her in intensity of singing and acting, never seeming to tire, even in the harrowing last Act of this demanding role. Baritone Bernd Weikl is an excellent Wolfram, Tannhäuser’s friend who loves Elizabeth, and Hans Sotin’s strong bass makes the Landgraf an imposing authority figure. --Dan Davis

Tannhäuser is sung in German with subtitles in German, English, French, Spanish and Chinese. Sound options include PCM Stereo and DTS 5.1 Surround.

Customer Reviews

Gwyneth Jones tackles the roles of both Venus and Elisabeth, and portrays both superbly, in fine voice.
Bob Epstein
Colin Davis was not known as a Wagner conductor, but he leads a great reading, at turns reverential, erotic; certainly more suitable than the bombastic Solti.
DGlo
The transition is seamless and the re-entry of the ensemble makes better musical sense than Wagner's cut.
L. Lubin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Doug Urquhart VINE VOICE on August 23, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There are many videos of Bayreuth performances, but this was the first. For that reason alone, it's worth watching; fortunately it isn't the only reason.

Unlike later recordings, this one includes curtain calls. I think this was an excellent decision, since it evokes the thrill of being part of a Bayreuth audience. Only in Bayreuth will an audience remain absolutely silent until the last note has faded, and then erupt in a paroxism of emotion - good or bad. Listen carefully, and you'll hear the point where the audience begin to stamp their feet, causing the wooden structure of the Festspielhaus to resonate with a sound like thunder. They obviously liked this performance.

And why not, indeed; it's excellent.

Gwyneth Jones performs both Venus and Elizabeth, as Birgit Nilsson did, back in the sixties. There were some difficulties - her lower register wasn't quite up to the essentially mezzo part of Venus, and her diminutive stature meant that she had to stand on a box throughout act I (somewhat limiting her range of movement). That's her on the cover of the DVD - you can see the corner of the box if you look closely. However, her acting ability, stage presence and total commitment to her roles more than compensated for these minor, er, shortcomings.

Spas Wenkoff's Tannhauser was full of manic glee (although this might have been a combination of close-ups and operatic acting). Wonderful strong voice, with none of the whiny edge that I've heard in other Tannhausers.

The unbelievably young Bernd Weikl was a splendid Wolfram - a role which he was to play many times. You might like to contrast his performance here with the one in the 1994 Munich performance, with Waltraud Myer as Venus.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By C. Lunde on August 15, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a recording of a live performance out of Bayreuth in 1978. Like most (though by no means all) Bayreuth audiences, this one is extraordinarily well-behaved, so coughs at inappropriate times aren't an issue and one gets all the benefits of a live performance without any of the drawbacks. There are curtain calls at the end of every act, but with the advent of the fast-forward button, these are not annoying.

As a warning, the production isn't strictly "traditional": Landgraf and the minnesingers are dressed in Faschist/Nazi style and the Venusberg is reimagined as a sort of opulent prison (Tannhauser looks through the strings of his harp during the overture as if they are prison bars.) Most of the time, though, the production makes sense: the minnesingers carry harps, the singing contest is in the grand hall of Wartburg, the Venusberg is underground and has its scantily clad nymphs, etc. Given what Wagner operas are turned into these days, this is as traditional a production as one is likely to get, unless one opts for the boring and generally poorly sung/acted Met version.

Now, to get to the *real* reason for buying this version: the cast. It's far superior to the Met's version and the other Bayreuth version in terms of both acting and singing. Bernd Weikl sounds and looks much fresher here (being 4 years younger than in the Met version) as Wolfram. If you don't like Gwyneth Jones, stay away: she plays both Venus and Elisabeth. I like her fine (though I don't love her), and though she tends to be a bit wild vocally her acting ability more than makes up for it. In the third act, she literally crawls across the stage and cries real tears during her prayer to the Virgin. When she goes offstage to die, you believe it.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Bob Epstein on August 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There is usually something special about a first recording, and this Tannhauser was the first complete opera video from Bayreuth, in 1978. It indeed is most compelling, graced by the elucidating and dramatic staging and direction of the highly acclaimed Gotz Friedrich. Ironically, for a first recording, Friedrich's original 1972 production raised holy hell in Bayreuth, booed in the house, criticized by politicians (!) and raising only medium levels of praise from the critics.

Today, it seems positively conservative. Banners than hang in the Act 2 song contest were criticized as too militaristic. Today they look positively traditional and inviting. When Tannhauser is about to sing his radical song, knights with swords lunge to attack him; hardly a stretch of imagination. The final chorus, on a darkened stage, was thought, incorrectly according to the set's notes, to be clad in a pedestrian outfit of red, apparently indicative of the East German Friedrich's Communist tendencies. Puhlease!

The Tannhauser is the unknown Spas Wenkel, a Bulgarian who was 50 when this was recorded. Apparently, from a Google search, he had a quick rise to acclaim and disappeared soon after. Here he joins the original cast from 1972 and they are a seasoned group. Wenkoff, besides possessing a very expressive stage presence, is a splendid singer, full of ardor with a ringing tone. His short career is our loss.

Gwyneth Jones tackles the roles of both Venus and Elisabeth, and portrays both superbly, in fine voice. Her Venus is not only vocally outstanding but a sight to behold, clad in a see-through outfit that does her and the audience, ahem, great justice. Yet, her dedicated Elisabeth, the flip side of Venus, is also spot on, full of reverence.
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