Wagner’s Tannhäuser is the earliest of the canonical works. In some ways it’s very Wagnerian. It has screwed up theology with a heavy dose of misogyny and some recognisably Wagnerian music. On the other hand it is structured more like a French grand opera and some of the music definitely has more than a hint of Meyerbeer to it.The basic plot is that of the hero seduced into sin by the pagan love goddess Venus and then redeemed by the love (and death) of the chaste virgin Elisabeth.
After what seems like an interminable series of reviews of DVDs that don’t do full justice to the product on stage I finally got to look at one that presented the production almost as if one had been in the theatre. It’s an Opus Arte disc of Calixto Bieito’s production of Berg’s Wozzeck staged in Barcelona in 2007. Bieito is seen by many as the epitome of Regietheater directors and many people will write off any of his productions without further ado. Not me. I found this Wozzeck by turns powerful, compelling, revolting and sometimes puzzling but never dull or disrespectful.