Richard Wagner

Tannhäuser

Oct 8 - Oct 31

James Levine conducts Wagner’s early masterpiece in its first return to the Met stage in more than a decade. Today’s leading Wagnerian tenor, Johan Botha, takes on the daunting title role of the young knight caught between true love and passion. Eva-Maria Westbroek is Elisabeth, adding another Wagner heroine to her Met repertoire after her acclaimed Sieglinde in the Ring a few seasons ago. On the heels of his recent triumph in Parsifal, Peter Mattei sings Wolfram, and Michelle DeYoung is the love goddess, Venus.

Read Synopsis Read Program
  • Sung In
  • German
  • Met Titles In
  • English
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Estimated Run Time
  • 4 hrs 20 mins
  • House Opens
  • Act I 71 mins
  • Intermission 35 mins
  • Act II 64 mins
  • Intermission 35 mins
  • Act III 55 mins
  • Opera Ends
Oct 8 - Oct 31

This production has completed for the season.

Be sure to check out our remaining productions on the season list.

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Cast

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A scene from Tannhäuser

World premiere: Court Opera, Dresden, 1845. Premiere of revised version: Opéra, Paris, 1861. History, myth, and invention come together in Tannhäuser to create a unique and powerful drama. The title character was a real 13th-century Minnesinger who inspired a legend that Wagner used as the basis for the opera. He notably added the character of Elisabeth, based on the historical Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, wife of the Landgrave of Thuringia. The opera’s score went through several revisions after the original performances, most importantly when Wagner added the Venusberg ballet for the 1861 French premiere.

Creator

Richard Wagner (1813–1883) was the controversial creator of music-drama masterpieces that stand at the center of today’s operatic repertory. An artistic revolutionary who reimagined every supposition about theater, Wagner insisted that words and music were equals in his works. This approach led to the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk, or “total work of art,” combining music, poetry, architecture, painting, and other disciplines, a notion that has had an impact on creative fields far beyond opera.

Production Otto Schenk

Set Designer Günther Schneider-Siemssen

Costume Designer Patricia Zipprodt

Lighting Designer Gil Wechsler

Choreographer Norbert Vesak

Richard Wagner

Composer

Richard Wagner

Setting

A scene from Tannhäuser

Tannhäuser takes place in and around Wartburg Castle, in Thuringia in central Germany, and in the mythical grotto of Venus, the goddess of love. Wartburg was the setting of a—possibly legendary—13th-century song contest as well as the home of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary (1207–1231), wife of the Landgrave of Thuringia. It would later become associated with Martin Luther, who translated the New Testament from Greek into German there. The pagan–Christian dichotomy expressed in the twofold setting is central to the opera’s dramatic core.

Music

Much of the score of Tannhäuser belongs to the tradition of Romantic opera that Wagner developed and transcended over the following decades to arrive at the new operatic aesthetic of his mature music dramas. In Tannhäuser, he expands mid-19th-century models of melody, harmony, and form to take his music to unprecedented expressive heights, both in the vocal and orchestral writing. The title character’s dramatic narrative in Act III, which abandons conventional melody in favor of a speech-based structure, directly points towards Wagner’s later works and remains striking in its modernity.

Met History

Of all the Met’s 471 performances of Tannhäuser between its company premiere in 1884 and the most recent revival in 2004, perhaps the most emotional one took place on January 22, 1943, when Australian soprano Marjorie Lawrence returned in a fully staged performance to sing Venus. Lawrence had been stricken with polio two years before and on this memorable evening resumed her career of opera, concerts, and teaching.

A scene from Tannhäuser