Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg is the fifth opera in the repertoire of Wagner, who was both the author and composer. The work premiered in Dresden in 1845, but perfectionism consistently haunted the German composer, who reworked it many times. As a result, we possess four authorial versions today, and even a month before his death, Cosima Wagner wrote in her diary that her husband said “that he still [owes] the world Tannhäuser.” Drawing inspiration from different sources and germanic legends, including the Sängerkrieg (“the minstrel contest”) and the Tannhäuser Ballad, the libretto of Tannhäuser tells the story of a Minnesänger (a kind of German lyric poet) who, after discovering the Venusberg (the “mount of Venus”), spent a year worshiping the Goddess of Beauty. His paganism is redeemed by the sacrifice of the young Elisabeth, who offers her own life for the salvation of Tannhäuser. In fact, the Pope states that he could no more grant forgiveness to the sinner than the pastoral staff bear green leaves again. The Minnesänger then prays to Saint Elisabeth, who works a miracle and the staff blossoms afresh: Tannhäuser is finally saved!
Browse recordings of Tannhäuser, WWV 70
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medici.tv is the best online platform for streaming Wagner’s Tannhäuser live, on replay or VOD, offering you a virtual ticket to the most exciting concerts with the world’s best artists and orchestras captured in HD video. Tannhäuser or, to be more specific, Tannhäuser and the Minnesängers’ Contest at Wartburg was not very successful at its premiere; in fact, faced with the negative reaction of the public—accustomed to a more traditional form of opera—Wagner stopped the performances of his work after the third one, and entered into an artististic crisis that did not leave him until the composition of Lohengrin. On medici.tv, you can find some of the best interpretations of Wagner’s operas, including Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, but also Parsifal or Tristan und Isolde, to listen to whenever you want, wherever you like!
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A selection of our programs is available for free for all registered users and the rest can be unlocked with a subscription, including Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser. Live videos, replays or VOD, stream right to your living room from the most renowned concert halls in the world, and you can watch our concerts on your biggest screens with AirPlay, Chromecast, and our new Roku app. medici.tv offers you a large selection of interpretations of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, conducted by renowned musicians such as Arturo Toscanini (in a superb archive video) or François-Xavier Roth.
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Tannhäuser is an opera based on thematic opposition: on one side, there is the tension between sacred and profane love; on the other, there is also the idea of redemption obtained through love. Besides, it is the setting of the plot—which takes place in the Middle Ages—that seems to prompt these kinds of reflections, and Wagner, in Tannhäuser, seems to be able to capture the contradictions of an era far from our secular time. Tannhäuser’s impiety, singing the pleasures of a venusian and physical love, is a mundane echo of the doctrinal discussions that animated the lyric poetry of the later Middle Ages. What is love? A force that drives us crazy, that takes away our freedom? This is what Tannhäuser’s drama is about, as well as that of many other singers. The most pure, noble, and moving synthesis of this philosophical tradition set to poetry—ending with Wagner—was formulated by a young Florentine, of less than 30 years: Dante Alighieri. With him, love becomes a tool of knowing God, and it is only thanks to love that he could fly up to Heaven—as written in his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy. On medici.tv, you can witness some of the best interpreters of our time, such as René Pape and Petra Lang, breathe new life into this ancient history. Come and watch Tannhäuser, whenever you want, wherever you like!