A Goddess, a Ballet, and a Tale of Love and Lust: LA Opera Presents Tannhäuser

Conducted by Music Director James Conlon, Wagner's opera returns for the first time in 14 years, with tenor Issachah Savage making a major role debut as Tannhäuser

(Los Angeles) September 27, 2021 — For the first time since 2013, the music of Richard Wagner returns to LA Opera on October 18, 2021, with a masterpiece of 19th-century German Romantic opera, Tannhäuser. Conducted by Music Director James Conlon, the opera tells the tale of a man returning home after a long erotic entrapment with the goddess Venus to pursue a more virtuous path. In a momentary lapse of judgment, he shocks the town with a passionate affirmation of carnal delights... which definitely doesn't help him score points with the innocent young woman heʼs smitten with.

Born into a musical and religious family from the Philadelphia area, tenor Issachah Savage returns to LA Opera for his first performances of the incredibly challenging title role. Since making his company debut as Narraboth in Salome in 2017, he has emerged as a major interpreter of the heroic tenor repertoire, with performances as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with the Seattle Opera and with the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, as Radames in Aida at the Dallas Opera and as Siegmund in Die Walküre with both the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto and the Opéra National de Bordeaux.

In addition to the in-person performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA Opera will livestream two performances (October 24 and 27) of Tannhäuser for viewers worldwide to access from the comfort of their homes via the company's On Now digital platform.

Dance is a crucial element in the opera's storytelling, with a major ballet (the Bacchanale, set in the mystical realm of Venus) as the centerpiece of Act One. This production will feature new choreography created by Aszure Barton, making her company debut. A recipient of Canada's prestigious Arts & Letters Award, Barton has choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, English National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and opera companies around the world. She has created works for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Misty Copeland, and she made her Broadway debut in 2006, choreographing The Threepenny Opera.

While Wagner's brilliant and seismic contribution to Western music is undisputed, his anti-Semitic views continue to make him a controversial figure long past his death in 1883. "In performing his music, we recognize Wagner's aesthetic influence and his centrality to the operatic repertoire, but fully acknowledge the moral questions that arise from the engagement with his legacy," said Christopher Koelsch, President and CEO of LA Opera. "We will continue to explore, discuss and bring these issues to light." The company is hosting online educational events and producing podcasts that examine Wagner's anti-Semitism and his contribution to music and opera.

In addition to the in-person performances at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA Opera will livestream two performances (October 24 and 27) of Tannhäuser for viewers worldwide to access from the comfort of their homes via the company's On Now digital platform. For those who attend in person, LA Opera's new vaccination policy, along with a new, state-of-the-art air filtration system and enhanced cleaning protocols, will ensure the best and safest possible experience for audiences, artists and staff, the company's top priority. (See below for more information.)

Meet the Cast
In addition to Issachah Savage in the title role, the cast includes two notable company debuts and the return of several company favorites.

American soprano Sara Jakubiak, who makes her company debut as Elisabeth, won the 2020 Opus Klassik Award for her performance as Heliane in Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane with the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Recent highlights include the title role of Francesca di Rimini at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Chrysothemis in Elektra in Valencia, Eva in Die Meistersinger in Munich and Dresden, and Tatiana in Eugene Onegin in Frankfurt and Santa Fe. Other appearances include the title role of Daphne in Hamburg and Elsa in Lohengrin in Vienna.

Russian mezzo-soprano Yulia Matochkina, a leading soloist with the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, makes her company debut as Venus. Her engagements this season include her Metropolitan Opera debut as Maddalena in Rigoletto and appearances as Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera with Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Eboli in Don Carlo at Deutsche Oper Berlin. Her many Mariinsky roles include Amneris in Aida, Didon in Les Troyens, Dalila in Samson et Dalila and Kundry in Parsifal.

Baritone Lucas Meachem, whose previous appearances in Los Angeles include Figaro in both The Barber of Seville (2009) and The Ghosts of Versailles (2015), returns as Wolfram. He most recently performed the title role of Eugene Onegin (opposite his Tannhäuser co-star Sara Jakubiak) at Santa Fe Opera. This season, he will appear as Marcello in La Bohème at the Metropolitan Opera and in Madrid, Figaro in The Barber of Seville in Dallas, Escamillo in Carmen in Munich, and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at Covent Garden in London.

Bass Morris Robinson, currently appearing as Ferrando in LA Opera's season-opening production of Il Trovatore, performs the role of Hermann. His numerous roles in Los Angeles include Osmin in The Abduction from the Seraglio (2017), Sarastro in The Magic Flute (2009) and Tiresias in Oedipus Rex (2021), and he will return later in the season as Ramfis in Aida. Elsewhere this season, he performs Sarastro at the Metropolitan Opera and Nourabod in The Pearl Fishers with Dallas Opera.

The cast also includes bass-baritone Philip Cokorinos as Biterolf and bass-baritone Patrick Blackwell as Reinmar. Two members of the Domingo-Colburn-Stein Young Artist Program, tenors Robert Stahley and Anthony Ciaramitaro, appear respectively as Walther and Heinrich, and an alumna of the program, soprano Erica Petrocelli, is heard as the voice of the Shepherd.

The Creative Team
Tannhäuser is conducted by Music Director James Conlon, a noted interpreter of Wagner who has to date conducted eight of Wagner's operas in Los Angeles. The production, originally created by director Ian Judge in 2007, features scenery and costumes designed by Gottfried Pilz. This season's production features new staging by director Louisa Muller, with additional new costumes by Misty Ayres, new lighting by Marcus Doshi and new choreography by Aszure Barton. Grant Gershon is the chorus director.

Click here to download production photos and artist headshots.

Performance Dates and Times
There will be six performances of Tannhäuser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, located at 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012:

Saturday, October 16, 2021, at 7:30pm
Sunday, October 24, 2021, at 2pm*
Wednesday, October 27, 2021, at 7:30pm*
Sunday, October 31, 2021, at 2pm
Wednesday, November 3, 2021, at 7:30pm
Saturday, November 6, 2021, at 7:30pm
* performance will be livestreamed

Tickets for Tannhäuser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion begin at $19 and are on sale now. Vaccination is required for entrance; please see additional information below. Digital tickets to watch the livestreamed performances of Tannhäuser on either October 24 at 2pm or October 27 at 7:30pm can be purchased for $30.

Tickets can be purchased online at LAOpera.org, by phone at 213.972.8001, or in person at the LA Opera box office at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles CA 90012). For disability access, call 213.972.0777 or email LAOpera@LAOpera.org.

More information is available at LAOpera.org/Tannhauser.

Vaccination Policy
In order to be considered fully vaccinated, patrons must confirm that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized double-dose vaccines or that 14 days have passed since receiving the sole dose of FDA or WHO authorized single-dose vaccines. Audience members may display proof of vaccine on a smartphone or by showing a physical copy of their vaccination card or official vaccination record, along with a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Guests younger than 18 may present a school photo ID. Those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who meets the listed requirements.

Children under 12 and those who are unvaccinated due to a medical or religious reason must provide proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to attending, along with government issued ID. Rapid or antigen tests will not be accepted.

Masks will be required at all times for all patrons and visitors regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces at LA Opera, except while eating and drinking in designated areas.

About LA Opera
Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be, with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming that preserves foundational works while making them feel fresh and compelling. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, given the extraordinary challenges of the time.

As LA Opera returns to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, the company continues to offer a wide range of digital content via its LA Opera On Now platform, which has accumulated more than 920,000 views since launching in the spring of 2020. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period. Those wanting to support LA Opera can visit LAOpera.org/donate.

Vanessa Flores Waite
Director of Communications

Production made possible with generous support from an Anonymous Donor and a Consortium of LA Opera Board Members

Issachah Savage's appearance is generously underwritten by a gift from The Piera Barbaglia Shahenn Next Generation Artist Award

LA Opera is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.