The next step in Oper Leipzig’s chronological presentation of Wagner’s work, his 1845 Tannhäuser, was profoundly undermined and rendered ineffective by the failure of the stage director, Calixto Bieito, to engage the work. So obstinate and pervasive were the efforts to prevent depiction of the necessary action of the drama, that it was impossible to follow the narrative, understand the...
The V & A Offers Exhibit and Book on “Opera: Passion, Power and Politics”
Contrary to the enthusiastic reception at the time, I left the 2017 installation at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum titled “Opera: Passion, Power and Politics” somewhat intrigued but hardly bowled over. The artifacts and visual slides that the exhibit included seemed familiar by and large; the mandatory headphones piped in recordings of performances and rehearsals […]
My brother Paul, of blessed memory, hated Tannhäuser. He said there was “too much Jesus in it.” I haven’t seen it since th 2012 Bayreuth production (since mercifully withdrawn) and I was happy to have another look during the recent Met revival of the boring and pretty Otto Schenck production. Tannhäuser is the second of the three […]
The Met Historic Collection
Halfway through the collection of “Legendary Performances” released by the Met this year, several surprises came to the fore. One was how poor the chorus at the Met was in the 1940s and 1950s. It was as if they dragged folks in from the street to have a go at the Pilgrim’s Chorus. Apparently the […]
In a perceptive (if wordy and miserably edited) article in the program for this summer’s Bayreuth Tännhauser, Edward A. Bortnichak and Paula M. Bortnichak explain the intellectual basis of Sebastian Baumgarten’s production. It has to do with “bioethics,” or how technological progress may have an adverse influence on traditional (i.e., romantic) notions of human...