Tannhauser Live from the Met, 1954 Part 2 of 3

A lesson in art history, some info about the venue, a list of the performers and Act 2 of a rare radio broadcast.

"Imagination creates reality." – Richard Wagner

The Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, commonly known as The Met, has a long history of presenting the works of Wagner to the public. According to Peter Gelb, the General Director of The Met since 2006, the very first season of the storied hall presented Wagner's Lohengrin in 1883, and no less than six Wagner works have had their U.S. premier's there, including Tristan und Isolde and Götterdämmerung.

The performances that are being presented here of Tannhäuser were recorded during what is commonly referred to as a Golden Age of performances of Opera in the United States. Everything seemed not just top shelf and classic in every sense of the word, but slightly over the top, which is befitting the works of a composer such as Wagner, who imbued his works with an overdeveloped sense of dramatic flair, not uncommon of any of the arts during the Romantic Period.

Romantic Period (Romanticism): Romanticism in the arts was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. Romanticism also often includes elements of the supernatural in its many forms. It was in direct opposition to the Industrial Revolution, which occurred simultaneously. It reached its apex in the mid-19th century.

The last night of performances of the original Metropolitan Opera House, 1966, New York City. This is what the interior of the famed hall looked like when these performances of Tannhäuser were recorded. Photo by John Dominis, courtesy of Life magazine.

A fantastic summary of Act 2 of Tannhäuser, courtesy of author Kamiki Yusuke (who has written two excellent books on Opera for beginners, in Japanese, no less: "In Wartburg castle, Landgrave Hermann holds a song contest, and declares that the winner will be awarded the prize by his daughter, Elisabeth. Among a lot of nobles and knights, Hermann gives challengers the subject of their song. It is “Essence of Love.” Wolfram sings that Essence of Love is Platonic. But, Tannhauser sings that it is the pleasures of lust, and he praises Venus. The audience knows that Tannhauser visited Venus in the forbidden place, Venusberg. All people insist he be banished. However, Elisabeth appeals to them to stop. She asserts that she is the most deeply hurt. Landgrave Hermann orders Tannhauser to visit the Pope in order to pay for what he has done."

The players on all three parts of this series, by order of appearance:

  • Venus: Astrid Varnay
  • Tannhauser: Ramon Vinay
  • Shepherd: Roberta Peters
  • Landgrave Hermann: Jerome Hines
  • Walther: Brian Sullivan
  • Biterolf: Clifford Harvuolt
  • Wolfram: George London
  • Heinrich: Paul Franke
  • Reinmar: Norman Scott
  • Elisabeth: Margaret Hershaw

Also featuring the Metropolitan Opera and Chorus.

  • Chorus Master: Kurt Alder.
  • Conductor: George Szell.

Act Three and more about Wagner and the cast of this production of Tannhäuser will appear in a program broadcasting tomorrow, Saturday the fourth.

Our tracks this program, presented in a continuous sequence.

First Part
Act 2, Parts 1-7

1. Act II-Dich, teure Halle, grüß ich wieder.
2. Act II-Dort ist sie, nahe dich ihr ungestört.
3. Act II-Verseiht, wenn ich nicht weiß, was ich beginne!
4. Act II-Gepriesen sei die Stunde.
5. Act II-Dich treff ich hier in dieser Halle.
6. Act II-Freudig begrüßen wir die edle Halle.
7. Act II-Gar viel und schön ward hier in dieser Halle.

To download this program, please click on this link.

Our tracks this program, presented in a continuous sequence.

Second Part
Act 2, Parts 8-15
8. Act II-Blick ich umher in diesem edlen Kreise.
9. Act II-Auch ich darf mich so glücklich nennen.
10. Act II-Heraus zum Kampfe mit uns allen!
11. Act II-Ha! Der Verruchte! Fliehet ihn!
12. Act II-Der Unglücksel'ge, den gefangen.
13. Act II-Weh! Weh mir Unglücksel'gem!
14. Act II-Zum Heil den Sündigen zu führen.
15. Act II-En furchtbares Verbrechen ward begangen.

To download this program, please click on this link.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

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