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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

Who knew the struggle between sin and salvation would sound so good?

After escaping an erotic entrapment with Venus, Tannhäuser returns to the real world to pursue the virtuous love of another. 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.

The fast-rising and incredible heldentenor — German for “heroic tenor” (meaning: he'll knock your socks off) — Issachah Savage stars as Tannhäuser, bringing his rare, beautiful voice to one of the most challenging roles in opera.

Tickets available now as an add-on to a Spring 2021 subscription package. 

“Conlon has fully assumed the mantle of the most accomplished music director currently on the podium of an American opera house.”

Opera News

Cast

Tannhäuser
Issachah Savage
Elisabeth
Sara Jakubiak
Venus
Yulia Matochkina
Hermann
Morris Robinson
Wolfram
Lucas Meachem
Biterolf
Philip Cokorinos
Reinmar
Patrick Blackwell

Creative Team

Conductor
James Conlon
Original Production
Ian Judge
Director
Louisa Muller
Scenery and Costumes
Gottfried Pilz
Chorus Director
Grant Gershon
Choreographer
Aszure Barton

Read the synopsis

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Synopsis

Act One
In the Venusberg, magical abode of Venus, the minstrel 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.

An LA Opera original production

Performed in German with English subtitles

Running time approx: 4 hours, with two intermissions

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Fall 2021 Season