As renowned for its harmonious overture as for its romantic storybook characters, this three-act masterwork features some of the composer’s most groundbreaking and unforgettable music, as well as a theme the young Wagner would revisit again and again later in his career—the redemptive and transcendent power of a woman’s love. The enchanting plot harks back to medieval history: Wolfram is a lovesick troubadour who desires the virtuous Elisabeth. She, however, has eyes for another: the rebellious knight Tannhäuser, who in turn cannot get over an overwhelming sensual experience in the realm of the goddess Venus, and is banished for singing her praises at court. Only saintly Elisabeth’s death can atone for his misdeeds.
Richard Cassilly takes on the title role in this classic telecast of Wagner’s epic, with Éva Marton and Tatiana Troyanos as the two women vying for his love in Otto Schenk’s beautiful staging.