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--Standard Repertory--

By Richard Wagner

VIDEO: 1978, Germany, Bayreuth Festival, German, English subtitles, 180 min. -- Spas Wenkoff, Gwyneth Jones, Bernd Weikl, Hans Sotin. PGD 070 512 Available as Order #JB 28 $49.95 from the German Language Video Center catalog Probably, the most solid Tannhäuser on video, though Jones is uneven. Still she doesn't detract seriously from the performance. [G.R.]

AUDIO: A) DECCA/LONDON: Rene Kollo, Christa Ludwig, Helga Dernesch, Solti conducting (1970); would be one of the finest Wagner sets around were Kollo's Tannhäuser not such an effortful protagonist--his voice, though, is still young and fresh despite the abuse, and there is no denying his alert, responsive dramatic interpretation; everyone else is superb and then some; stereo

B) DG: Placido Domingo, Agnes Baltsa, Cheryl Studer, Sinopoli conducting (1988); not so many chills and thrills as in A, but the most conscientiously musical protagonist available anywhere (Domingo as Tannhäuser), albeit dramatically a bit generalized, helps to enhance a less energetic, but more probing, conductor's contribution; stereo [G.R.]

C) MET GUILD (for a King's ransom): Lauritz Melchior, Kerstin Thorborg, Kirsten Flagstad, Leinsdorf conducting ("live", Met, 1941); Melchior is incomparably the finest voice available in this role and his interpretation, though not so attentive as Kollo's, is more heartfelt and responsive than Domingo's; musically, he clearly knows his part, but he pays no attention to Maestro Leinsdorf or anyone else and there are occasional lapses in ensemble cohesion due to him; Flagstad too establishes a benchmark for vocal opulence in her role; but the greatest combination of vocal opulence, and attentiveness to character, and musical preparation is in Thorborg's Venus; Leinsdorf manages to keep things pretty much on track, a tall order with Melchior listening to his own drummer, but Leinsdorf does not probe so deeply as Sinopoli; in fair mono [G.R.]

For Further Reading:

Tannhaeuser (Opera Guide, No. 39), by Richard Wagner

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