Bayreuth: Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser (August 20th, 2023)

By , September 3, 2023 16:08

First, again, the obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Nathalie Stutzmann
Regie: Tobias Kratzer
Bühne und Kostüm: Rainer Sellmaier
Licht: Reinhard Traub
Video: Manuel Braun
Dramaturgie: Konrad Kuhn
Chorleitung: Eberhard Friedrich

Landgraf Hermann: Günther Groissböck
Tannhäuser: Klaus Florian Vogt
Wolfram von Eschenbach: Markus Eiche
Biterolf: Olafur Sigurdarson
Reinmar von Zweter: Jens-Erik Aasbø
Elisabeth, Nichte des Landgrafen: Elisabeth Teige
Venus: Ekaterina Gubanova
Ein junger Hirt: Julia Grüter
Le Gateau Chocolat: Le Gateau Chocolat
Oskar: Manni Laudenbach
Edelknaben: Cornelia Heil, Ekaterina Gubanova, Laura Margaret Smith, Karolin Zeinert

This has been the second time, that we saw this staging, and we will not regret it. This IS currently the best staging in Bayreuth, and I’m quite sure, that I can say, that for me, it’s the most convincing staging of a Tannhäuser, that I have seen so far. We saw it the first time, when it premiered in 2019, and instantly fell in love with it, so as it was sopposed to be the last year to be seen, we decided to go again. Luckily, for all those, who did not yet have the chance to see it, Katharina Wagner announced that it will be also shown next year (aka: 2024) again.

So, what Is it, that makes me love this staging?

First: This staging does NOT try to picture the libretto, it tries to provide answers to questions asked by the libretto, like: What role does an artist have in socienty? How can an artist (Wagner states in 1849: “frei im Wollen, frei im Thun, frei im Genießen”) solve his being drawn between being an artist and still belonging to the “normal” society? What role does the audience of an artist play? And more specifically even: What role does the audience in Bayreuth play? And: How shall a staging of an opera happen?

Let’s start with the last question: The whole second act is “staged” in a illuminated frame: The whole singing contest takes place inside that frame. But the artists group doesn’ feel well inside that frame, because the rules of that frame are way to conventional, not liberal or free. But it takes them a long time to break out of that frame (whereas breaking into that frame was quite easy, and shown in Manuel Braun’s great video just above that frame (the stage opening in Bayreuth is a square, and here singing took place in the lower part, the screen for the video is the upper part), and we can see, how they break into the Festspielhaus to disrupt the conventional singing contest in black and white video. But then breaking out of that frame is difficult, and I specifically love the cautios move, that Venus does to “test” the world outside that conventional order and its frame in stepping out of the frame to the front.

Or the audience of the Festspiele: In the first act, we see the Festspielhaus, and the pilgrims choir is just the regular audience coming to the Bayreuth Festspiele and they pilgrim up to the Festspielhaus, including those, coming to late and hurrying up, and those being early and already reading the program book, and also those being well prepared and having their fans used against the hot air.

Or in the third act, where we experience the sadness of a fallen art hero and see the sadness just below an huge ad of one of the successful artists from their group.

So, here, we can experience the whole spectrum of human emotions, put into an entertaining concept, reflecting so many of the questions raised by Wagner in his opera Tannhäuser, which he believed not to have really finished (“Ich bin der Welt noch einen Tannhäuser schuldig”).

And, with a cast like listed above, and with the so-called “Tümpelshow” in the first break, this is really time well spend and time, and an experience, which one will not forget.

Much has been written elsewhere about this staging, let me simply state: I’m happy, that I could see it already two times, with such great detail and love to details from all involved.

Go, if you have time in 2024, it’s more than worth it!

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