[Met Performance] CID:255000

Opening Night {94}, General Manager (Executive Director): Anthony A. Bliss

Metropolitan Opera House, Mon, September 18, 1978

Debut : Kurt Moll, Richard Kness, Kenneth Anderson

Tannhäuser (403)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Richard Cassilly

Teresa Zylis-Gara

Bernd Weikl

Tatiana Troyanos

Kurt Moll [Debut]

Richard Kness [Debut]

Charles Anthony

Vern Shinall

John Cheek

Kathleen Battle

Robert Sapolsky

Godehard Rau

Kenneth Anderson [Debut]

Mark Freiman

Gerard Hecht

Joseph Quinto

Scott Rigby

Daniel Tramontozzi

James Levine

Otto Schenk

Set Designer
Günther Schneider-Siemssen

Costume Designer
Patricia Zipprodt

Lighting Designer
Gil Wechsler

Norbert Vesak

Stage Director
Phebe Berkowitz

Tannhäuser received fifteen performances this season.
The Paris version was performed.

Review 1:

Review of Byron Belt for the Newhouse Newspapers

The Metropolitan Opera's 94th season has just opened with a revival of last year's generally acclaimed new production of Richard Wagner's "Tannhäuser." This is also reported to be the longest Met season ever. Based on a somewhat sprawling opening night performance, it may seem even longer.

"Tannhäuser" is about as unlikely a choice to open a season as Wagner's "Parsifal" would be. Even with a balletic orgy in the opening Venusburg Scene and the glittering "Entrance of the Guests" into the second act's Hall of Song, "Tannhäuser" is a gloomy, slow-moving work full of stodgy, noble people who ultimately overwhelm the sensuous appeal of Venus and her court.

The opening night Met audience lacked the glamour of earlier years. This would be to the good except for the fact that it retained all of the traditional rudeness. Every act opened with people streaming down the aisle, blocking viewing and obstructing hearing and concentration.

No wonder James Levine decided to take everything louder than he did last year, removing a great deal of the wonderfully refined performance he secured previously. The conductor probably took about the same tempi, but it moved slowly for two long acts, suddenly taking wing in a last act of considerable magnificence.

Most of what was grand in "Tannhäuser" came from a generally splendid cast. Head, shoulders and voice above everyone was tenor Richard Cassilly in the title role. Always a sensitive artist with a beautiful voice, it has rarely been as securely under control or as ringingly authoritative as it was in one of the supreme Wagner performances in recent years.

No one else quite matched Cassilly, but Bern Weikl repeated his manly, vocally sumptuous Wolfram, whose hymn to the evening star was again a highlight. Teresa Zylis-Gara was a lovely Elisabeth, and the Polish artist was particularly touching in her final scene prayer. Kathleen Battle's Shepherd was vocally exquisite.

Kurt Moll brought a great, resonant and dark voice to the Landgrave, making one eager to hear him in other Wagner, and Mozart's "Magic Flute." The Moll debut was a triumph, but that of tenor Richard Kness proved without distinction. As Venus, Tatiana Troyanos was not vocally right in the big opening scene, but uttered her last-act phrases with the beauty we like to associate with her at her best.

Other than some ragged shouting off-stage, David Stivender's chorus sang well. Future performances will probably be smoother, and if conductor Levine relaxes a bit, it may tone down in volume and seem less endless than at the opening.

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