Saturday 19 July 2008

DVD: Waltraud Meier in David Alden Tannhäuser from Munich

Tannhäuser. Bavarian State Opera, Munich 1995. Production: David Alden. Cast: René Kollo (Tannhäuser), Nadine Secunde (Elisabeth), Waltraud Meier (Venus), Bernd Weikl (Wolfram), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Hermann). Conductor: Zubin Mehta. Further information here.

David Alden has created a Tannhäuser most reminiscent of a painting of Salvador Dalí - a vast desolate landshape populated with strewn pillars and all types imaginary as well as real shapes and creatures. The costumes are eclectic, ranging from modern, formal evening gowns to medieval suits of armor and even nothing at all. Tannhäuser is a traveller in this eerie world, best described by watching a clip from the production:

At least half of David Alden´s many symbols I do not understand. How about the GERMANIA NOSTRA on the wall in the second act? The Freudian doors opened by Venus inviting Tannhäuser to the table of excess in the Venusberg seem easier.

René Kollo is way past his prime here, almost intolerably wobbly and looking far too old for the part. Nadine Secunde has a large voice, though curiously stretched and does in fact not make a very good Elisabeth. On the contrary Waltraud Meier is a superb Venus, by far the best of this cast (and on DVD).
All accompanied by a sufficiently energetic performance from Zubin Mehta with the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra.

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):

René Kollo: 2
Waltraud Meier: 5
Nadine Secunde: 3
Bernd Weikl: 4
Jan-Hendrik Rootering: 3

David Alden´s production: 4
Zubin Mehta: 4

Overall impression: 4


Anonymous said...

We are certainly not spoiled by the number of Tannhauser productions currently on DVD. I think the situation is only marginally better than with the Dutchman.
Before buying this DVD I was initially very hesitant given some of the really terrible reviews Kollo gets for his performance here.
Perhaps it's just a case of lowered expectations (or maybe I'm just clueless) but I found his wobble tolerable and his performance very moving.
The staging and the symbols I think will not grow on me with repeated viewing.

mostly opera... said...

Well, I envy you re: Kollo, who genuinely ruins this thing for me.

Agreed on the Tannhäuser selection, however it looks like the Lehnhoff Baden-Baden production they are playing next week (w/ Waltraud Meier, Solveig Kringelborn, Stephen Milling) may be recorded. Philippe Jordan conducts. Unfortunately Robert Gambill is Tannhäuser...

Re: Holländer, I´d expect Konwitschny´s production from Munich to be released as well.

But far the worst, imo, is the lack of a really fine Parsifal on DVD...

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