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Potentially more tempting for me would have been Tannhäuser, filmed at Bayreuth. Sebastian Beumgarten’s concept sounds intriguing, promising to question the very artistic process that creates the opera using installation art by Joep van Lieshout. Alas, it falls well short of its promise. The poor audience is subjected to ceaselessly labouring extras and abstract orchestral noise before the performance and during the intervals (my companion left the room while I was watching it, driven away by the endless racket). Some of the audience is seated onstage, so the performance is totally immersive. How unfortunate for them. They are part of van Lieshout’s onstage machine which encompasses the action. The accompanying booklet states that ‘things simply do not come together the way one expects’. Indeed. Alex Kober conducts a polished reading of the score. Torsten Kerl’s protagonist gets off to a bad start – perhaps Venusberg is too much for him – but then just as other tenors often start to flag he sails through the murderous tessitura with aplomb. Camilla Nylund gives a committed performance as Elisabeth, vocally somewhat anonymous; likewise Markus Eiche’s Wolfram. Michelle Breedt’s high mezzo hits the notes, but her pregnant Venus looks a jolly sort. Kwangchul Youn rises above the proceedings as the Landgrave, his bass sonorous, his sang froid seemingly unruffled by his surroundings.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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