Tuesday, October 3

Tannhäuser: Deutsche Oper Berlin – Usher Hall

Sitting from 6 pm – 10 pm is a big ask for an audience. It’s an even bigger ask for an orchestra and singers. Below me, from my balcony, I could see a sea of white heads. I think it takes maturity to know this will be worth it. The majority down there are probably Munro climbers – folk who know it is worth the trek. Sitting through a Wagner opera (on stage or in concert) is a statement of love.

Wagner is bold. He’s brassy. He’s massively dramatic – employing harps and I’m a bit of a lover of those things. I am a novice to Tannhäuser, and it did not disappoint.

I was truly impressed with all the performers. Together, they comprised: chorus and orchestra of the Deutch Oper Berlin and musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Sir Donald Runnicles conducted while Jeremy Bines was responsible for the commanding chorus.

© Mihaela Bodlovic

Voices were sublimely rendered by each principal singer. They were all fabulous in their acting skills. Apart from, disappointingly, Clay Hilley, who played the central character, Tannhäuser, because he had his eyes firmly fixed on his book. The rest looked at each other, reacted, connected with the audience, made us feel what they felt – brilliantly – but Mr Hilley, felt like an outsider among a group of gifted actors. Was that deliberate? Tannhäuser, indeed, returns from Venusberg and is considered a leper among the elite of Warburg. For me, it would have been stellar if Hilley had performed equally as well as he sang.

The chorus were powerful and the entire thing was cleverly orchestrated. Voices from Venusberg drifted from the wings and from behind the audience, as did trumpet music. The cor anglais, played by Iveta Hylasova Bachmannova, was highlighted physically which created focus. Meechot Marrero, as the young shepherd, sang in grand isolation. Benedikt Leithner on Timpani was pretty vocal and impressive. 

I could go on, but suffice it to say, there were too many excellent performances to name all the participants. It was splendid and the time sped by!

Reviewer: Kathleen Mansfield

Reviewed: 25th August 2023

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.