The correct cast list
Alan Anbari | Austin, TX USA | 11/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"EMI evidently provided the wrong cast list to Amazon (and other outlets); despite what it says here and what the cover image shows, Thomas Hampson does NOT appear on this DVD. The cover has been corrected. For the record, as it just arrived, I have not watched it yet (but Amazon required me to give it a star rating to submit this review!). The correct cast list according to the cover is as follows:
Landgraf Hermann - Alfred Muff
Tannhäuser - Peter Seiffert
Wolfram von Eschenbach - Roman Trekel
Walther von der Vogelweide - Jonas Kaufmann
Biterolf - Rolf Haunstein
Heinrich der Schreiber - Martin Zysset
Reinmar von Zweter - Guido Götzen
Elisabeth - Solveig Kringelborn
Venus - Isabelle Kabatu
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor"
WORST TV DIRECTION IN OPERA I'VE EVER SEEN!!
Gonzalo Tello | LIMA, PERU | 12/14/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Im very dissapointed about this DVD. First of all, probably all the people that wrote their reviews here bought this dvd BLINDLY thinking that THOMAS HAMPSON was singing as Wolfram. (Until now, the artwork and the main review says so).
My complains here are:
1. I don't care about those camera shots to the artists behind the scenes, i thought it was original and different...but then they were just completely OUT OF CONTROL!!, it was like watching a concert, and was very distracting, and I mean very. I just hate the angles of the cameras, and watching the director's hands only. Very distracting and unnecessary.
2. The director has no idea about opera direction. No idea about Wagner. No idea about productions. It was like she was told "ok, do you see that guy over there? thats Tannhauser" so she decided to stuck a camera on him, disrespecting the other singers, and for instance, making us losing the entire first act. I couldn't understand or realize what was happened on stage. A shame.
3. The reason i rate this dvd with 2 stars is because the sound and singers. THe sound and artists are awesome, and the production looks great, just as Zurich opera always does. Its a real shame that they chose a director that just destroy their production on dvd.
SO BE AWARE!! I think the only reason to have this DVD is because Peter Seiffert and SOlveig Kringelborn are here. Both are spectacular and are among the ultimate wagnerian singers.
But i REALLY recommend not buying it."
Well sung but has directorial flaws
OperaOnline.us | Boston, MA | 01/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I didn't hate it. . .
If you have read the chatter about this new release from `EMI Classics', directed by Chloe Perlmuter, then you will understand what I mean by "I didn't hate it". This new Tannhauser has met with quite a bit of resistance, not for the performance or the singing but because of the confusing direction. The biggest problem about this DVD, not the performance, is that it keeps diverting us back from the fictional world that Wagner so beautifully crafted to the reality of life as an opera singer. Set in a time indefinite (the costumes were dark and muted and seemed confused; there was no scenery to speak of: is this a period piece or a post apolalyptic era?) For those who have not seen this yet, in a nutshell, the director continuously brings us back stage to see the performers walking around, preparing and, in some cases, getting into character while the orchestra plays onstage. To some, this style may not distract (it was interesting to see what the singers are actually doing prior to the curtain rising) but for me it kept taking me away from the opera itself and placing me back into reality. The other major flaw here was the amount of close-ups. There are times throughout a performance that singers should not be viewed close up, especially if they are prone to sweating. Peter Seiffert, our Tannhauser, was literally dripping from the moment he took the stage. It was so noticable that it became a little uncomfortable to watch.
A word about the actual stage production and direction . . . terrific! I really loved what they did and some of the images were evocative, powerful and outstanding. The spackling of red throughout the Venus scene was well done and the placement of red fabric on the stage floor in an oval shape (caught from an overhead camera) - looked great. My very favorite Wagner aria (if there is such a thing) is Elizabeth's Act III Allmacht'ge Jungfrau. This can make or break a production for me. Here, Solveig Kringelborn did a beautiful job and captured the essence of the entire scene.
The performance overall, as it relates to the principle singers was top-notch; all did a terrific job and deserve mention. Peter Seiffert was a wonderfully voiced Tannhauser and remained in good voice throughout; his acting was also quite good. Solveig Kringelborn did an outstanding job as Elizabeth and carried out all of her tasks with beauty and ease - standing out among the other principles and chorus at the conclusion of Act II. Roman Trekel's Wofram von Eschenbach (named after the original writer of the prose work of Parsifal) did a noble job and made one genuinely feel for the character. Finally there was Isabelle Kabatu giving us a vampy, sexy Venus. One can honestly understand why Tannhauser would want to remain with her in Venusburg.
I love Wagner and think that Tannhauser is a great introduction for anybody wanting to explore his works. I always recommend listening to this first, as it is his easiest work. Unfortunately this DVD does not give one the sense of escape one looks for in Wagner. As noted earlier it keeps moving back and forth between pre-production and performance shots, and for me, it takes away from the actual viewing pleasure.
I will still watch this again, based on the strength of the performers, but I may opt to do some work around the office while listening. JG"
Decent performance sabotaged by idiotic video direction
Richard | Minneapolis, Mongolia | 11/25/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is the most willfully wrongheaded opera video. Not the Zurich production; the video. Cloe Perlemuter, the video director, should never be allowed near a camera again. She has done her best to keep us from getting sucked into this ultimate romantic opera. What's wrong? Well it begins in the first scene when we cut from Tannhauser to the orchestra harp. Wait. It gets worse. Poor Venus is hardly on camera even when singing. Instead we get a severe close up of Peter Seiffert - a decent singer but hardly an actor and no great looks. Everything is seen through Tannhauser. And throughout we keep cutting away to a shot of the orchestra from the balcony. And you know what? A distant view of an orchestra is not that dynamic. No shots of the conductor. Just the orchestra. And as it goes on you realize theses are the same few instruments from the same angle - harp, cello, bassoon. No horn, no flute. What would Wagner think? He hid the orchestra under a black cloth. As we get into Act 1 we seem to zero in more and more on poor Seiffert who by this point is sweating profusely. We get to see a huge drop form on his lip and drop into the void. Meanwhile the hunters are singing in the background. Will we see them singing? Once in the while. Indeed we get to see poor Wolfram not when he is singing but when he isn't. The whole thing is closeup after closeup of Seiffert. Act 2 starts out a little better. At least Kringelborn gets the camera for Dich Teure Halle. But we are still making random trips to the orchestra. And whenever there is a climax we jump to the balcony for that great shot of the orchestra, but now we begin to pan from there to the stage. It is hard to tell what the sets are like since we are so often in close up. The only distance shots are from that vertiginous balcony. It took forever to figure out the lay of Venusberg. Besides the close ups are often only of torsos. Singing bodies - no heads. That's interesting. And when the heads appear they are usually cut off and soon drift off screen. The Landgraff sings off screen and that's a pity because he doesn't make it on voice alone. Instead we are treated to more Seiffert. Did his agent pay off the camera man? The whole song contest is sung off camera. Don't these singers pay their equity? So it goes. I figured Act 3 would be better since it is largely solos. But Cloe has a new trick. During the prelude when we should be focusing on her beloved orchestra instead we go backstage and watch Seiffert get ready, or we go onstage to watch Elisabeth and Wolfram wait for the curtain to rise. As as the actual act begins we glance by Elisabeth to see stagehands in the wings. We get to see Tannhauser and then Venus waiting to go onstage, Venus accompanied by more stagehands. In the Rome narrative the ever present sweat is accompanied by awesome feats of spitting. This man must have lost at least 20 pounds in this performance. And guess what? It doesn't even stop when poor Tannhauser dies. Now we get to gaze into his glassy eyes for a good two or three minutes while the pilgrims sing. At least Seiffert does dead good. The production from what one can see of it is rather ordinary and straight forward with the trench coats de rigeur in every production today - no Eurotrash at least. That is left to the video. Is Cloe attempting some Brechtian alienation? She has certainly achieved it. So what of the performance? Obviously with all this distraction it is hard to focus on the mere singing. Seiffert is good, not great. Kringelborn is all right. Kabatu is a little off. The rest are mediocre. The orchestra plays well. Perhaps it is all that attention. Welser-Most is very good. Without the idiot Cloe this could have been decent. The sound is wonderfully natural. I will never return to this video. You could turn off the video and just listen but then there are many better CD versions."