Melbourne Opera’s superb new production of Wagner’s rarely performed masterpiece Tannhäuser, with a company of over 130 singers and musicians, will open the magnificent Regent Theatre to the thrilling world of grand opera on 14 August 2016.
The first staging of Tannhäuser in Melbourne since 1992, and admired by luminaries as diverse as Baudelaire, Queen Victoria, Oscar Wilde and Sigmund Freud, Tannhäuser explores the tension between the sensual and the spiritual.
History, myth and Wagner’s own invention come together to create a unique and powerful drama with a composition that features some of Wagner’s most well known music including the Overture, Ode to the Evening Star, Pilgrims Chorus and Elizabeth’s Greeting and Prayer.
International star tenor Marius Vlad arrives from Europe to perform the demanding title role. A multi award-winning opera singer who has performed on Europe’s greatest stages, Marius recently played Tannhäuser to great acclaim throughout Europe and in Moscow. His long list of world-class credits includes many highlights such as Froh in Das Reingold at Milan’s famous La Scala, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.
The opera is directed by Suzanne Chaundy following her acclaimed new productions of The Abduction from the Seraglio, Mary Stuart and the inspired contemporary realisation of Der Freischütz, whose creative team come together again for this unique staging of Tannhäuser.
Chaundy has set the opera in a ‘parallel’ world with contemporary styling, illustrating the timelessness of the story and it’s underlying themes. “Tannhäuser illustrates how, despite many hundreds of years of the so-called civilizing force of religious belief and codified societal conventions, we are still ruled by our most primitive desires and urges,” she said.
Gripped by Tännhauser‘s dream like qualities, Suzanne’s production takes inspiration from the concept explored by the famous Golden Age play La vide es Sueño (Life is A Dream) by Calderon de la Barca, where life is a shifting reality based on the protagonist’s subjective viewpoint. The set design by Christina Logan-Bell and extensive digital projection by multi Green Room Award winning video designer Zoe Scoglio will help to convey this concept.
“We have created a timeless projected backdrop that speaks to the universal, sublime, environmental, mythical, surreal and psychoanalytical qualities of the piece. The images embody the idea that despite the history of Western thought trying to separate culture from nature and mind from body, our wild and primal spirit within is never far from the surface,” says Scoglio.
Melbourne Opera has assembled a top cast of international and local singers to perform this monumental work. Joining Marius Vlad are Herald Sun Aria winners Lee Abrahmsen and Jason Wasley as Elizabeth and Walther respectively. Sarah Sweeting performs the sensually commanding role of Venus, with Manfred Pohlenz in the pivotal role of Wolfram. A 60 strong Melbourne Opera Chorus supports the cast.
Under the direction of leading Wagnerian Dr David Kram, the 65-piece Melbourne Opera Orchestra will bring all the majesty of Wagner’s magnificent arias and ensembles to life. Tannhäuser will be performed in German with English subtitles.
Regent Theatre, 191 Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 14, 17 and 20 August 2016
Robert Blackwood Hall – Monash University, 49 Scenic Boulevard, Clayton
Performance: Sunday 28 August 2016 – 2.30pm
For more information, visit: www.melbourneopera.com for details.
Image: Tannhäuser video still by Zoe Scoglio (supplied)