In his Romantic opera Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg
(Tannhäuser and the Singers' Contest at Wartburg Castle), as its full title
reads, Richard Wagner brought together several sources and themes, treating the
story of the Minnesinger Tannhäuser, the singers’ contest at Wartburg Castle
and the historical figure of Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia. Noteworthy is the
fact that Wagner was inspired by the Czech castle Střekov, which he had visited
in June 1842. Tannhäuser was premiered on 19 October 1845 in Dresden with
the composer conducting and the titular role portrayed by the Czech tenor Josef
Tichatschek (Josef Alois Ticháček). The opera was first performed in the Czech
lands on 25 November 1854 at the Estates Theatre under the baton of František
Škroup. A significant chapter in Tannhäuser’s final version was played by
its staging in Paris in 1861. Wagner partially revised the work, for instance
the second scene in Act 1 – at the Venusberg. He further amended the opera
for its performances in Munich (1867) and Vienna (1875), with these changes
considered the definitive (“Fassung letzter Hand“), even though the Paris
version is often deemed to be the final one. One of the work’s major motifs
is the contrast between sensual love, represented by Venus, and the pure love of
Elisabeth. A similar theme appeared in Wagner’s final opera, Parsifal. The
opera is a real feast for the audience owing to a host of impressive and
well-known passages (the Overture, Bacchanalia, Tannhäuser’s songs, the
arrival of guests at Wartburg Castle, Wolfram’s song to the evening star,
Elisabeth’s scene, etc.).
The State Opera most recently hosted Tannhäuser twenty years ago. Our new production will mark the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth and 130 years since his death.
Tannhäuser – Richard Wagner
The National Theatre
Premiere: 11.1. and 14.1 2014
Libretto: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Jaroslav Kyzlink
Stage director: Andrejs Žagars
Sets: Reinis Suhanovs
Costumes: Kristine Pasternaka
Light-design: Kevin Wyn Jones
Chorus master: Pavel Vaněk, Tvrtko Karlovič
Dramaturgy: Beno BlachutState Opera Orchestra
State Opera Chorus
Czech National Opera Chorus
Czech National Opera Ballet
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