By: David Sheward
The Metropolitan Opera’s warhorse production of Wagner’s Tannhauser was given a magnificent recent rendition under the baton of maestro James Levine. South African tenor Johan Botha strongly captured the passionate struggle of the titular minstrel between the sensual and the spiritual. But the heart of the production was provided by the two female singers representing Tannhauser’s opposite attractions. Soprano Eva-Marie Westbrook conveyed the angelic purity of the saintly noblewoman Elisabeth with rich, full tones while mezzo Michelle DeYoung embodied the essence of physical love as the goddess Venus. Her alluring siren call to Tannhauser to join her in the orgastic underworld, populated by a lithesome chorus of beautiful dancers, made the hero’s inner battle all the more believable. Peter Mattei’s Wolfram was also memorable as was the inspiring choral work, particularly during the pilgrims’ procession.
At over four hours, Tannhauser can be too much for some audiences, but the right performers can make it into a sublime operatic experience as was the case here.
Oct. 8-31. Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, 66th St. and Broadway, NYC. Repertory schedule. Running time: four hours including two intermissions; $27-$460; (212) 362-6000 or www.metopera.org.
Photography Marty Sohl/MetOpera
Originally Published on November 10, 2015 in ArtsinNY.com