Tannhäuser and the Singers' Contest at Wartburg

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883)

18:00 - 22:00
D-Prices: € 136,– / € 100,– / € 72,– / € 44,– / € 26,–
Information about the work

Romantic opera in three acts
First performed on 19th October, 1845 in Dresden
Premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on 30th November 2008

4 hrs / 2 intervals

In German with German and English surtitles

Introduction (in German language): 45 minutes before beginning; Rang-Foyer

recommended from 16 years
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18:00 - 22:00
D-Prices: € 136,– / € 100,– / € 72,– / € 44,– / € 26,–
the content

About the work
Repelled by the dispassion of the Wartburg society of minnesingers, Tannhäuser, a singer-knight, removes to the interior of the Venusberg in search of fulfilment. Eventually his longing for Elisabeth leads him to leave again. Back at the Wartburg castle, Tannhäuser takes part in a singing contest whose theme is the nature of love, but when he sings that love is ideally about sensual satisfaction, he is cast out and sent to Rome to seek papal absolution. He returns from Rome without the hoped-for indulgence and resolves to return to the Venusberg. Then a miracle occurs and he finds redemption after all.

Of all Richard Wagner’s operas, this is arguably the one most closely associated with the composer’s own biography and his conception of himself as an artist. The tale of the song contest in the Wartburg castle contains all the themes common to Romantic conflict in art: the quest for social acceptance on the one hand pitted against a questioning of conventions on the other; the search for sensual fulfilment – and its irreconcilability with an idealised, de-sexualised concept of womanhood; and not least the conflict between self-expression in life as in art and the guilt engendered by this egomania.

About the production
In her production for the Deutsche Oper Berlin Kristen Harms focuses on the complicated relationship between Tannhäuser and Elisabeth, a young Thuringian noblewoman, who represents the ideal of pure, pristine love. Harms sees TANNHÄUSER as “a tale of two people, each with two souls in their breast”. This accounts for her casting of a single singer to play both Elisabeth and Venus, who fuse at the end of the opera into a single person, one who has found redemption. As for Tannhäuser, Harms presents him and his mild-mannered friend Wolfram von Eschenbach as two character sides of the same coin.

By the same token the Venusberg, Tannhäuser’s abode at the start of the opera, is deemed by Harms to be “not a den of vice but a realm in which wish, insistence and desire are interwoven in a knot of libidinous fulfilment.” The story is told against a backdrop of tableaux that draw on illustrations found in texts of the High Middle Ages yet also incorporate a touchstone to the present day.

Our recommendations

Tristan and Isolde
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Der Ring des Nibelungen – Das Rheingold
Der Ring des Nibelungen – Die Walküre
Der Ring des Nibelungen – Siegfried
Der Ring des Nibelungen – Götterdämmerung


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Adventsverlosung: Das 10. Fensterchen

Before Tobias Kratzer's third production of INTERMEZZO premieres on our stage in April 2024, you can win his debut production for your home DVD collection in today's Advent calendar: Alexander von Zemlinsky's DER ZWERG.

In today's Advent calendar window, we are giving away two DVDs of the Naxos recording of Alexander von Zemlinsky's opera DER ZWERG, which was nominated for the GRAMMY in the "Best Opera Recording" category and is one of the most successful new DVD productions of recent years. If you would like to take part in the prize draw, please send an e-mail today to advent@deutscheoperberlin.de with the subject line "The 10th window".

A vain, superficial princess - a dwarf artist: the protagonists could hardly be more different, but the story only becomes a tragedy when the dwarf, unaware of his appearance, misinterprets the mockery of court society as a sign of honour and the princess's coquetry as proof of love. When he finally recognises himself in the mirror, he cannot escape the glances of the others - and collapses dead. This fairy tale about an outsider has had biographical parallels in mind since its premiere: Zemlinsky was small and rather slight in stature and suffered from his brief but passionate affair with Alma Schindler for the rest of his life. A quarter of a century of trauma management passed between the liaison in Vienna and the first performance in Cologne, during which the once renowned artist gradually found himself sidelined: too avant-garde for the traditionalists, too traditional for the avant-garde ... Experience David Butt Philip, Mick Morris Mehnert, Elena Tsallagova and Emily Magee in the main roles under the musical direction of Sir Donald Runnicles in a production by Tobias Kratzer.

We would like to thank the Naxos label for the great collaboration of recent years, which - in addition to Zemlinsky's DER ZWERG - has documented recordings of DAS WUNDER DER HELIANE, FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, DER RING DES NIBELUNGEN, DER SCHATZGRÄBER and DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG, as well as ARABELLA and ANTIKRIST in the course of 2024.

Closing date: 10 December 2023, the winners will be informed by email on 11 December 2023. The DVDs will then be sent by post. Legal recourse is excluded.