The Royal Opera House

Opera Guide: Tannhäuser

What can explain Wagner’s obsession with Tannhäuser, which he first conceived in 1845 and still considered unfinished at his death in 1883? Describing of the struggle of a man torn between erotic love and spiritual fulfilment, the opera contains the kernels of all his later works: man’s need for love and artistic satisfaction, his desire for an existence beyond death, the operation of memory and the nature of madness. The essays in this volume examine the legends which Wagner chose to weave into his text, while Carolyn Abbate also considers the effect of his many revisions upon the score, pointing out that the initial idea already involved a contrast of musical language to focus the conflict.

‘Tannhäuser’ – an Obsession, Mike Ashman
Tanhusære, Danheüser and Tannhäuser, Stewart Spencer
Wagner’s Most Medieval Opera, Timothy McFarland
Orpheus and the Underworld: The Music of Wagner’s ‘Tannhäuser’, Carolyn Abbate
Tannhäuser: Poem by Richard Wagner
Tannhäuser: English translation by Rodney Blumer
Bibliography, Stewart Spencer
Discography, Robert Seeley

ENO Libretto 39
Composer: Richard Wagner
Page extent: 96 pages
Size: 21.5 x 14 cm portrait
Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 9780714544403