Friday, 3 February 2012
The Royal Danish Opera had the choice between releasing Konwitschny´s unforgettable production of Elektra and this present Tannhäuser on DVD. For reasons unbeknownst to me, they chose then opera intendant Kasper Holten´s production of Tannhäuser.
Admittedly, the production received rave reviews in the Danish press, which immediately puts me in the minority as I immensely disliked the production when seeing it in the theater. Also, I had trouble understanding it. Now, I am better prepared, having read bunches of review as well as the thoughts of the production team, which is still more interesting than actually watching the show, that is: The DVD.
Kasper Holten has creasted a Tannhäuser centered around the artists conflict of creation. It could be Richard Wagner, we see, but it is not necessarily so. This Tannhäuser is married to Elisabeth, has a child and is split between family and the process of creastion, personifized by Venus.
He struggles for recognition, but achieves this only after his own death, predeceded by the suicide of Elisabeth. "Zur erinnerung am Tannhäuser, der grossen poet und singer" we see at the end.
Much of Venus´ world is literally turned upside-down, to emphasize the contrast to Tannhäusers daily routines, and Venus lurks around, present in most scenes.
Kasper Holtens staging, clearly gains from being revisited on DVD and the unconventional closed-up filming in various angles added some (at times much-needed) dynamics to the piece.
Tina Kibergs voice has deteriorated significantly the past 10 years and is simply not pleasant to listen to anymore, though her committed acting makes somewhat (but not entirely) up for it. Susanne Resmark, a large woman one would not immediately associated with Venus, makes the most of what she got with a commanding stage presence and a willingness to expose herself competely if it serves the role. Many, who saw the Copenhagen Ring still remember her Siegfried-Erda, where she stripped down to a nightdress in a retirement home. Also as Venus, she is compelling and vocally strong.
Stephen Milling, in his second Landgraf-DVD is impressive, whereas Tommi Hakala, a Cardiff Singer of the World winner in 2003, is more anonymous.
And Stig Andersen himself, now 60 years old, generally ages well vocally, and makes a considerably better effort than most of his colleagues on the major stages.
Friedemann Layer, a favourite of the Royal Danish Orchestra, conducts lucidly and fluently.
Is it THE Tannhäuser to own? It could be, depending on preferences. The ultimately traditional Tannhäuser is the one from The Met, alternatively are David Alden´s Munich production or the newer Lehnhoff staging from Baden-Baden.
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Stig Andersen: 4
Tina Kiberg: 2
Susanne Resmark: 3
Tommi Hakala: 3
Stephen Milling: 4
Kasper Holten: 3-4
Friedemann Layer: 4
Overall impression: 3-4