Daniele Rustioni and David Hermann manage to give a romantic imagination to Tannhauser, Wagner’s early work, no longer given in Lyon for 50 years, in sumptuous settings inspired by SF cinema and a royal cast. Deserved ovation.
It’s curious, when you listen to Wagner, you always have the impression that he is in pain! To love as to compose, torn in this Tannhauser of youth – reworked a thousand times – between two women: Venus for pleasure and ecstasy, Elisabeth for love and virtue. Don’t try to find subtlety in a Wagner libretto. We could almost sum it up Tannhauser by surges of musical fever which never manage to climax: pleasures in the first act (in the Venusberg, Wagner always had a genius for finding high-sounding names to pretend to invent universes), penance in the second, and the fight between the two in the third… But since we are in Wagner and still in the 19th century (1845), we talk much longer about penance and sin than we allow ourselves pleasure, and in the end – be careful, disclosure – it is obviously virtue that wins (Elisabeth, extraordinary Johann van Oostrumsweet as love, acclaimed as it should be).
David Hermann, of blade runner at Gladiator
Fortunately David Hermann has the good taste never to take such a pompous libretto seriously, while seriously working to direct it. The sumptuous SF decors in a nod to Star Wars, madmax Where blade runner skilfully constitute the virtual world of unattainable pleasures, while the stasis of the singers (perfectly directed) and the solar costumes open onto a veritable Wagnerian imagination. Just like the cast: insolent with authority, Stephen Gould is the perfect Wagnerian boor faced with the piercing treble of his Venus (Irene Robertsaudacious and full of glitter), while the Wolfram of Christoph Pohl one of the most famous melodies of the German composer, when he was still a melodist, will push into the third act… The choir of pilgrims in a desert emerging from Star Wars is pure splendor, the touches of humor never become gimmicky and the choreography of the imitation Venuses in the first act skilfully inhabits a relatively bare stage. In the second act, you will still have to stuff yourself with the least sung and most interminable singing competition in the lyrical repertoire, but here again, David Hermann brings there what is needed in humor and spectacle, in an arena with the Gladiator.
Daniele Rustioni, the prince of drama
But from the first moments, Wagner is well in the pit: Daniele Rustioni – who had promised a Germanic opera at the start of each season – confers on its Tannhauser a sincere romanticism as well as a dream of French grand opera from the opening. The instrumental first quarter of an hour is a splendor, just like the drama that it manages to tie in the gravity of the third act, which once again demonstrates the great dramatist of the baton he makes, never only in the outpouring . The final set is bigger than life as we like it at the opera: tutti, sumptuous sets and lights and dramatic intensity. Like what, from a minor work can emerge a great production, provided you know how to divert it… Tannhauser obviously never sufficient on its own. Robert Carsen made him a painter Pollock in a very fine production at the Paris Opera. Here, David Hermann makes him a traveler of his own intimate space in cosmic settings. It’s smart, beautifully done, and it works perfectly. A production to resume: like the public who applauds a quarter of an hour at the end, we want more.
Tannhauser by Richard Wagner. Dir mus Daniele Rustioni. Staging David Hermann. Until Sunday October 30 at 7 p.m. (Sun 4 p.m.) at the Opéra de Lyon, Lyon 1er. From 10 to 110 €. (announced full, register on the waiting list)
Last days to see the futuristic production of Tannhauser at the Opéra de Lyon – Exit Mag