Show artwork for Tannhäuser

Tannhäuser Tannhäuser

Composed by Richard Wagner

Conducted by James Conlon

October 16 – November 6, 2021

An Original LA Opera Production

At the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

"L.A. Opera is back big time with Tannhäuser" - The LA Times

After escaping an erotic entrapment with the goddess Venus, Tannhäuser returns to the real world to pursue the virtuous love of a mortal woman. But in a momentary lapse of judgment, he shocks the town with a passionate affirmation of carnal delights... which definitely doesn't help him woo the innocent young woman heʼs smitten with.

Issachah Savage, an incredible heldentenor — German for “heroic tenor” (meaning: he'll knock your socks off) — stars as Tannhäuser, bringing his rare, beautiful voice to one of the most challenging roles in opera.  Who knew the struggle between sin and salvation would sound so good?

All tickets now on sale below and include our ticket guarantee: should anything change and you don’t feel comfortable joining us, we’ll be happy to exchange or refund your tickets free of charge. Save more when you purchase a 2021/22 subscription package.

Important COVID-19 Audience Policy Update: LA Opera has adopted a temporary vaccination-only policy in addition to requiring masks. These guidelines will be in effect beginning September 1, 2021 and will end as soon as they are deemed no longer necessary. Please click here to review all protocols.

New Breathe Easy Section
Pending availability, LA Opera has made some seats available in certain sections where the seat next to you and your party could be blocked off. Seats in our Breathe Easy Section are extremely limited and available only by calling the Box Office at 213.972.8001.

Pre-performance talk update:
Each season, James Conlon’s pre-show talks are an enormously popular highlight of every performance he conducts. Since Stern Grand Hall is currently unavailable for large, stationary gatherings (due to COVID-19 restrictions), the pre-show talk for Tannhäuser has been reimagined.

This time, James Conlon’s Tannhäuser talk will be filmed and made available to watch from home. You can watch the pre-show talk by clicking here or from the link in the event reminder email you receive before the date of your performance. Additionally, for all performances—the talk will be screened on large outdoor monitors on the Music Center Plaza for audiences to enjoy, beginning one hour before the opera.

“Saturday night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion probably ranks among my greatest nights in the theater and I’m finding the superlatives in my thesaurus inadequate to the task.”

Patrick MackParterre Box


Issachah Savage
Sara Jakubiak
Yulia Matochkina
Morris Robinson
Lucas Meachem
Philip Cokorinos
Walther von der Vogelweide
Heinrich der Schreiber
Patrick Blackwell
Erica Petrocelli

Creative Team

James Conlon
Ian Judge
Louisa Muller
Gottfried Pilz
Additional Costumes By
Misty Ayres
Marcus Doshi
Grant Gershon
Aszure Barton

Read the synopsis

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Act One
In the Venusberg, magical abode of Venus, the minnesinger Tannhäuser halfheartedly praises the goddess of beauty, who for more than a year has bestowed her love upon him. Venus promises greater revels when Tannhäuser asks for his freedom, but she curses his hopes of salvation when he longs for the simple pleasures and pains of earthly life. In response he calls on the Virgin Mary, and the Venusberg vanishes.

Tannhäuser finds himself near the castle of the Wartburg, where passing pilgrims inspire him to laud the wonders of God. Horns announce the Landgrave Hermann and his knights, who recognize their long-lost comrade and invite him to the castle. One of them, Wolfram von Eschenbach, reminds Tannhäuser that in the past his singing won the love of Elisabeth, the landgrave's beautiful niece. On hearing her name, Tannhäuser embraces and joins his companions.

Act Two
In the Hall of Song in the Wartburg, Elisabeth hails the place where she first heard Tannhäuser's voice. Wolfram reunites the happy pair, who sings God's praises. As guests arrive, the landgrave promises Elisabeth's hand to the winner of a contest of love songs. Wolfram delivers an idealized tribute to Elisabeth, whom he too has loved. Tannhäuser, his soul still possessed by Venus, counters with a frenzied hymn to the pleasures of worldly love. Everyone is shocked, but Elisabeth protects Tannhäuser from harm, securing her uncle’s pardon for her beloved on the condition that he make a pilgrimage to Rome to seek absolution.

Act Three
Several months later, Wolfram discovers Elisabeth at evening prayer before a shrine in the Wartburg valley. She searches among approaching pilgrims for Tannhäuser, but in vain. Broken, she prays to the Virgin to receive her soul in heaven. Wolfram, alone, asks the evening star to guide her on her way. Tannhäuser now staggers in wearily to relate that despite his abject penitence, the Pope decreed he could as soon be forgiven as the papal staff could break into flower. The desperate man calls to Venus, but she vanishes when Tannhäuser is reminded again by Wolfram of Elisabeth, whose funeral procession now nears. Tannhäuser collapses, dying, by her bier. A chorus of pilgrims enters, recounting a miracle: the Pope’s staff, which they bear forward, has blossomed.

Synopsis by John W. Freeman, reprinted courtesy of Opera News.

Listen Now: James Conlon on "Tannhäuser" and the Wagnerian Universe

Want to enjoy all of the Wagnerian podcasts we have in our operatic arsenal? Click here.

It is important to note that while Richard Wagner is considered one of the most important and influential of all composers, he is also rightly reviled as having been an anti-Semite. For more information on this topic please click here.

Click here to read James Conlon's essay on Tannhäuser.

Click here to read the digital program.

An LA Opera original production

Performed in German with English subtitles

Running time: approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes, including two intermissions

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 Shaheen Next Generation Artist Award.


Artwork for Tannhäuser
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2021/22 Season