Tannhäuser

Jesús López Cobos
Coro y Orquesta Titular del Teatro Real
Date/Location
17 March 2009
Teatro Real Madrid
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast
HermannGünther Groissböck
TannhäuserPeter Seiffert
Wolfram von EschenbachChristian Gerhaher
Walther von der VogelweideStephan Rügamer
BiterolfFelipe Bou
Heinrich der SchreiberJoan Cabero
Reinmar von ZweterJohan Tilli
ElisabethPetra-Maria Schnitzer
VenusLioba Braun
Ein junger HirtSonia de Munck
Gallery
Reviews
OperaClick.com

Teatro Real in Madrid staged Richard Wagner’s romantic opera Tannhäuser. During the tenure of Maestro Jesus Lopez-Cobos, at the helm of Madrid’s most important opera house, the theatre has staged all the important works by the celebrated German composer, making Madrid a Wagnerian haven, an honor once granted to Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. The scenic production utilized for this performance was conceived and created by Gotfried Pilz and english stage director Ian Judge. This production was first seen and unveiled at the Los Angeles Opera in February 2007. In visual terms, the staging maintains its visual impact and provocative charm. It consists of two revolving platforms set on the sides of the stage that move clockwise, creating different settings such as a great hall where the Wartburg competition takes places, a forest and an imaginary Venusburg. The plot is situated in the 40s and the bright lighting and costumes contrast the white and black color, thus making a pleasant and visually suggestive setting.

The stage direction of Ian Judge, took place within the boundaries of logic and respect for the score and in no way interfered with the drama of the story. As it occurred in Los Angeles a few years ago, the production in Madrid raised controversy and scandal, as the Venusburg scene was set in a brothel, with graphic erotic scenes and nudity. The scene was in fact more daring in Madrid than it was in Los Angeles, as this critic had the opportunity to attend the opening night performance of this opera in 2007. El cast was headed by German tenor Peter Seiffert, who displayed his robust and profound voice, with commendable intonation and musicality. On the acting part of his role he was a temperamental and fiery Tannhäuser. On the other hand, soprano Petra-María Schnitzer graced the role of Elizabeth with her sweet and tender acting and a melodic and harmonious voice. Soprano Lioba Braun was a vocally intense and forceful Venus.

Spanish bass Felipe Bou personified and impressive Biterolf efficient in the singing words and in the line of interpretation, with energy in his acting skills.

Baritone, Christian Gerhaher incarnated a convincing and remarkable Wolfram, he dominated the scene vocally with artistic composure, and a noticeable vocal quality and timbre. The rest of the cast and the chorus carried out their parts with dignity and decorum.

In the pit, musical director Jesús Lopez Cobos highlighted the exuberance of the orchestration with enthusiasm and equilibrium. His choice of tempos was slow at the onset of the opera, but dynamic and intense for the rest of the piece.

Ramón Jacques | Data dello spettacolo: 02 Apr 2009

ConcertoNet.com

Les madrilènes ont de la chance: le Teatro Real vient de leur offrir un des meilleurs Tannhäuser possibles (version Paris-Dresde); grâce aux voix, à la direction musicale, à l’orchestre, et aussi à la mise en scène, avec cependant une légère réserve, comme on le verra plus bas. La voix de ténor de Peter Seiffert passe du lyrisme à l’héroïsme avec une trompeuse apparence de facilité. L’expérience de ce chanteur est vaste dans le répertoire wagnérien (Erik, Lohengrin, Walther, Tristan, Parsifal), et la voix est idéale pour ce rôle à double entité du héros déchiré entre le « péché » du Venusberg et l’hypocrisie des philistins du Wartburg. Face à Seiffert, une soprano du même calibre artistique, Petra Maria Schnitzer, Élisabeth d’un lyrisme intense et parfois bouleversant. Quant au baryton Christian Gerhaher, il campe un Wolfram imbattable. Et pourtant il était “souffrant”. Que sera-ce lorsqu’il sera guéri? Lioba Braun, en Venus, supporte la comparaison sans problème, malgré la maladresse scénique du Venusberg qui ne lui est toutefois pas imputable. Le reste de la distribution est d’un niveau très digne (Groissböck, Rügamer, Cabero, Bou, Tilli). Le chœur, dans une situation problématique (pratiquement en grève), se tire avec brio de sa triple intervention: le chœur des pèlerins, le chœur « mystique » en coulisses, et le chœur dédaigneux du Wartburg. Protagoniste de choix, Jesús López Cobos, à la tête de l’orchestre, a su trouver les nuances, et suggérer les moments le plus lyriques, voire les plus proches de l’ « héroïsme ». En dirigeant toujours mieux, López Cobos tourne en ridicule la décision absurde de mettre un terme à son contrat avec le Teatro Real. Décision irréfléchie d’une équipe arrogante.

La mise en scène, enfin, ne manquait pas d’attraits. Vaguement située au XIXe siècle, elle offre un jeu de couleurs très suggestif : le rouge des « vicieux », le blanc des philistins déguisés en agneaux, le noir de la banale fête au Wartburg, le vert de l’espoir manqué par la damnation d’un pape qu’on croirait impie. Bravo pour les décors et les costumes de Gottfried Pilz, bravo aussi pour la mise en scène, et les mouvements, parfois quasi “dansés” d’Ian Judge. Spectacle d’une beauté incontestable, sauf, hélas, pour la Bacchanale.

Il existe un mot espagnol intraduisible : hortera. Cela signifie : “de mauvais goût”, avec une connotation de naïveté et de rustrerie. C’est le mot qui convient le mieux à cette parade de beaux corps, à ces agiles contorsionnistes évoluant dans une maison close décorée de rouge : le Venusberg est hortera. Mais au fond, que peut-on faire d’une telle scène (ou celle des danseuses perses de Khovantchina), si l’on ne réunit pas des talents comme ceux de Wieland Wagner et de Maurice Béjart (1961)? Sans doute faut-il accepter cette sensibilité hortera dans la conception wagnérienne du Venusberg, ou parmi ses « inspirateurs » parisiens. Que les wagnériens me pardonnent cette irrévérence.

Cela n’entache pas pour autant un spectacle digne des meilleurs théâtres lyriques du monde.

Santiago Martín Bermúdez

Opernnetz.de

Zwei Welten

Jede Tannhäuser-Inszenierung wird zunächst nach dem „Konzept“ hinterfragt. Ian Judge geht es offenbar um das Aufeinandertreffen zweier konträrer Welten: des freizügig-offenen Tannhäuser und der konventionell-etablierten Gesellschaft – nicht Kunst versus Banausentum oder Sex versus verklemmter Enthaltsamkeit. Das zelebriert der so theatererfahrene Judge in spektakulärem Bühnenhandeln, konkretisiert als wogendes Agieren mit dem immer wiederkehrenden Positionieren in plakativen Ensembles. Es gelingt ein sexuell-stimulierendes Szenario des Bacchanals – durchaus konkurrierend mit allgegenwärtigen medialen Darstellungen im Soft-Porno-Duktus und eine leidgeprüft-ausweglose „Erlösung“ Tannhäusers – allerdings mit frappierender Variante: Wolfram folgt der Venus in ihr Reich; der Antagonismus wird zum Zyklus der archetypischen Kontroverse!

Dass dies spektakuläre Konzept aufgeht, ist vor allem den kommunikativ-stimulierenden Bühnenbauten von Gottfried Pilz zu danken: Auf zwei Drehbühnen bewegen sich schwarze Fensterwände und monumentale Fassaden, fokussieren demonstrative rote und grüne Leuchtröhren die Aufmerksamkeit und schaffen imaginative Raum-Konstellationen mit allen Ingredienzien der Bühnen-Magie.

Christian Gerhaher als freundschaftlich verbundener, an Tannhäusers Motiven hochinteressierter Wolfram gibt dem Geschehen mit seinem modulationsreichen, intensiv-timbrierten Bariton und seinem ausdrucksvollem Agieren entscheidende Impulse. Peter Seiffert ist der enthusiasmiert-verunsicherte Tannhäuser, braucht allerdings eine lange Anlaufzeit, um die Rom-Erzählung dramatisch-heldentenoral bravourös zu vermitteln. Petra Maria Schnitzer fasziniert als liebend-entsagende Elisabeth, interpretiert mit ihrem agilen, ausdrucksstarken Sopran Sehnsucht, Leidenschaft und gläubiges Entsagen in bewegender Intensität. Lioba Braun als eher cool-berechnende Venus beeindruckt mit ihrem souveränen Mezzo und gebrochener Emotionalität. Günther Groissböck demonstriert als konsequent-normierender Landgraf eine ungemein kraftvoll-voluminöse Stimme, unterstreicht seine stupende Fähigkeit zu deklamatorischem Ausdruck. Mit Stephan Rügamers hellem Tenor als Walther, Felipe Bou als klangschönem Biterolf, Joan Cabero als ausdrucksvollem Heinrich der Schreiber und Johann Tilli als durchsetzungsfähigem Reimar sind die angepasst-konventionellen Sänger außerordentlich besetzt – und Sonia de Munck singt den Hirten mit erfrischend-heller Stimme. Der Coro Sinfonica de Madrid (Leitung Peter Burian) brilliert darstellerisch beim exzentrisch choreografierten Einmarsch auf die Wartburg und präsentiert perfekten Chorgesang!

Jesus Lopez Cobos leitet das Orquesta Titular del Teatro Real zu einem luziden Wagner-Klang, nutzt die exzellente Akustik des Teatro Real zum differenzierten Ausdruck aller Instrumentengruppen – und vermeidet jeglichen Bombast, unterstützt die Solisten nachhaltig – doch ein wenig mehr Leidenschaft im kollektiven Spiel könnte nicht schaden.

Das kultivierte Premieren-Publikum im geradezu magischen Teatro Real folgt mit gespannter Aufmerksamkeit in phänomenaler Lautlosigkeit, applaudiert mit verteilter Intensität – und lässt sich durch die zuvor medial-vermittelten Skandalisierungen („Porno-Oper“) überhaupt nicht beeinflussen.

Eine großartige Opern-Atmosphäre! (frs)

MusicWeb-International.com

These performances of Tannhäuser at the Teatro Real have received an unusual response from the media due to the fact that the production included numerous naked extras during the bacchanal scene. Apparently, this is the only aspect of the opera that held any interest for the media, which was at pains to make it seem as if we were going to witness a great scandal on the stage of the Teatro Real. Poor Wagner! He occupied the front pages not as a composer, but as a vehicle for strippers.

This production by Ian Judge was premiered in Los Angeles two years ago, but did not much impress conservative American society. The action was transferred to the last century, which does not matter much since we are dealing with legend or myth and these, independently of historical origins, are timeless. Mr Judge’s production told the story well enough, although it seemed to me to be a pretentious work and rather superficial. Of course, in the famous bacchanal Mr Judge stays totally on the surface of things. It is certain that a bacchanal is not normally a religious function and, therefore, there is nothing particularly strange about using it to show an orgy on stage (in fact we have seen this sort of thing time and again).

Some readers will be aware of the scandal in Paris at the premiere of this opera in 1861, where the scandal was not due to use of the term ‘bacchanal’, nor for the presence of naked bodies (there were none) but by the location of the ballet in the first act. Let me emphasize the word ballet, because the bacchanal is exactly that – a ballet, although you don’t need to dance it while wearing tutus. A ballet is a physical means of expression, while an exhibition of the sort we were presented with is something entirely different. In this production Ian Judge simply eliminates any ballet, and instead has extras stripping on stage. This might be pleasant to look at, but it is not what Wagner intended.

From then on the production worked as a pure game of colours. Act II is staged in simple black and white, which from my point of view lost a great deal of intensity, and the direction of the chorus on stage was poor. For the last act, the dominant colour changed to green, with the exception of Venus and her beautiful cohort of naked bodies. The sets consisted of two independent turning modules with a profusion of doors.

A modern production these days seems as though it must offer some “originality”, at all costs, even if it is purely gratuitous. In this case Mr Judge brings Venus back to the stage at the end of the opera to take Wolfram to the Venusberg. About this, I will make no comment.

Jesus Lopez Cobos has been unusually prominent lately in the newspapers due to his public comments about his disagreements with the board of Teatro Real and his negative view of the musical direction that Mortier intends to repeat here (following his time in Paris). Apart from making these press statements he took up his baton and conducted this Tannhäuser and, once again Lopez Cobos has been faithful to himself. Everything was under control, there were no surprises and the reading was efficient but short of life and inspiration. After a bland overture and a lifeless Venusberg, things improved throughout the performance, the third act being best. The Orchestra gave a good performance in line with what we are used to in this theatre, although the gentleman seated next to me came from Prague and he found the orchestra rather poor. The Chorus has also been in the media, this time due to labour disputes. They were very warmly applauded, although I thought they were not outstanding. Again, it all depends on what you are used to.

Peter Seiffert continues to be one of the best interpreters of Tannhäuser around. His voice has not lost any brightness and he retains all his familiar expressiveness, besides to be able to cope perfectly with the tessitura of the character. His biggest problem is that signs of fatigue in the top register are becoming too evident and the wide vibrato starts to get annoying. In the second cast we had the American Robert Gambill, who is also in worrying vocal shape. Singing the very heavy Wagner roles over the past few years has taken a big toll on his voice and today he is just a shadow of what he once was. The unsteadiness of his voice is too great for a tenor at 59.

Over the past few years Petra Maria Schnitzer has made astonishing progress in vocal terms. When she first began to play the lighter Wagner roles I found her too light a soprano, but this is not the case any more. Last year she was a good Elizabeth at the Barcelona Liceu and now she has again given a performance confirming this positive trend. Today she is an outstanding Elizabeth, with only the Prayer falling short of the usual excellence. In the second cast we had the young Tyrol-Italian soprano Edith Haller, who gave an interpretation in line with what we heard from Ms Schnitzer. Ms Haller is more than just a promising soprano and she was at her best at the end of Act II while, again, the Prayer was the weakest point.

To sing Wolfram is a gift for any baritone. Wagner gave this character some of the most beautiful pages he ever composed. What is needed is a great singer with a real feeling for lieder, who knows how to express emotions with controlled and perfectly internalised singing and the casting of Christian Gerhaher in the role was a total success. Gerhaher was a sublime and superb Wolfram. That Ian Judge chose to punish him with the Venusberg instead of promoting him to heaven is more than just a contradiction. Mr Antonio Moral has offered to us a true dream Wolfram and congratulations are due to both of them. Roman Trekel has been specialising in this beautiful role recently and he continues to be a great Wolfram, particularly in the Song to the Star – but who could forget what Gerhaher had given us the day before?

As in Barcelona last year, Günther Groissböck was perfectly suited to the role of the Landgrave. Lioba Braun was a good Venus, but Anna-Katherina Behnke had problems in her upper registers, despite her age. Stephan Rügamer sang well as Walther, as did Felipe Bou as Biterolf. Act II was given, as usual, in the Dresden version.

There was a full house for both performances. There were cheers for Gerhaher, Seiffert and Schnitzer in the first cast, and for Haller and Trekel in the second. López Cobos was much better received after the second performance.

José M Irurzun

Rating
(5/10)
User Rating
(3/5)
Media Type/Label
Premiere 4760
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Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 453 MByte (MP3)
Remarks
Broadcast (RNE Radio Clásica)
A production by Ian Judge