Saturday, February 17, 2007

Culture: Countdown to Tannhauser ... oh my!

I previously blogged about my plans to go to an annual opera event.

I went to the Los Angeles Opera web page and saw the following notation to the Tannhauser ad banner -- "Viewer Discretion advised: nudity, adult language, strong sexual content."

Oh, my!

Is the libretto R (X-rated?) -- gasp!???

Or is it this production's interpretation of the opera?!

Okay, opera fan readers, what's the scoop?

Enquiring minds want to know!

UPDATE: Decided to check out Amazon.com to see what DVDs of Tannhauser look like. The NY Metropolitan Opera has the top selling DVD. Excerpt:
Under the artistic leadership of conductor James Levine, the production team of director Otto Schenk and designer Günther Schneider-Siemssen has adhered strictly to the composer's wishes. These are not hard to fathom; they were clearly articulated in his lifetime and rigorously enforced at Bayreuth long after his death. But in the last half-century they have been frequently violated by his descendants and heirs, among others. The temptation to plumb these music dramas for symbols and allegories is almost irresistible. In this production, like the later Met edition of the Ring cycle, the artists sensibly allow each audience member to develop a personal interpretation without undue interference.
There is a DVD for a production filmed at Bayreuth. Excerpt:
The staging is classic Wolfgang Wagner with the round moving stage in Act I, the round Hall of Song in Act II (a particularly lovely setting, I felt), and in Act III's minimalist mound in the valley of the Wartburg. Costumes are suitably minimalist and in muted colors but with interesting detailing.
Here is the production by the National Theatre of Munich. Excerpt:
In Richard Wagner's obsessive drama, with its themes of sin and repentance, cultural inhibition and artistic spontaneity, sexual excess and lost innocence, symbols sprout as profusely as dandelions on summer lawns. A lot of the symbols were put there by the composer (who also wrote the libretto), but for this production director David Alden has decided to add many more--notably in the first scene: an orgy in the love nest of the goddess Venus. The sadomasochistic visuals, reminiscent of the feverish inventions of Hieronymus Bosch, may help to explain Tannhäuser's decision that he wants to go home. Like the scenery, the costumes are eclectic, ranging from modern, formal evening gowns to medieval suits of armor and even, in a few choice instances, nothing at all.
Hmmm, I suppose this LA premier production will follow the Munich approach?!

The LA Opera has posted a video of some of the rehearsals. They repeat the viewer discretion is advised. From the music I heard on the video and from what I read from this Wikipedia synopsis of the opera, it would appear that after the overture is the ballet/bacchanalian orgy scene at the Venusberg. It would also appear that some productions (including LA's) of this opera have opted to leave little to the imagination.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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