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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the Spirit of Bayreuth
There are many videos of Bayreuth performances, but this was the first. For that reason alone, it's worth watching; fortunately it isn't the only reason.

Unlike later recordings, this one includes curtain calls. I think this was an excellent decision, since it evokes the thrill of being part of a Bayreuth audience. Only in Bayreuth will an audience remain...
Published on 31 Jan 2009 by Doug Urquhart

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sound problems
What the production very carefully but very puzzled that the dynamics are so irregular. The soloists too loud often and can hardly hear the choruses. Probably a very old production with unsophisticated sound equipment. I think that purchasers should be warned
Published 13 months ago by Dr J L Stonier


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the Spirit of Bayreuth, 31 Jan 2009
By 
Doug Urquhart (Southport, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
There are many videos of Bayreuth performances, but this was the first. For that reason alone, it's worth watching; fortunately it isn't the only reason.

Unlike later recordings, this one includes curtain calls. I think this was an excellent decision, since it evokes the thrill of being part of a Bayreuth audience. Only in Bayreuth will an audience remain absolutely silent until the last note has faded, and then erupt in a paroxism of emotion - good or bad. Listen carefully, and you'll hear the point where the audience begin to stamp their feet, causing the wooden structure of the Festspielhaus to resonate with a sound like thunder. They obviously liked this performance.

And why not, indeed; it's excellent.

Gwyneth Johns performs both Venus and Elizabeth, as Birgit Nilsson did, back in the sixties. There were some difficulties - her lower register wasn't quite up to the essentially mezzo part of Venus, and her diminutive stature meant that she had to stand on a box throughout act I (somewhat limiting her range of movement). That's her on the cover of the DVD - you can see the corner of the box if you look closely. However, her acting ability, stage presence and total commitment to her roles more than compensated for these minor, er, shortcomings.

Spas Wenkoff's Tannhauser was full of manic glee (although this might have been a combination of close-ups and operatic acting). Wonderful strong voice, with none of the whiny edge that I've heard in other Tannhausers.

The unbelievably young Bernd Weikl was a splendid Wolfram - a role which he was to play many times. You might like to contrast his performance here with the one in the 1994 Munich performance, with Waltraud Myer as Venus.

The orchestra, chorus and other performers all lived up the normal Bayreuth standards of perfection. Colin Davis maintained a lively and expressive tempo.

This is the full Paris version, complete with a somewhat prim Bacchanale, filmed in 1978, when this originally controversial production had been accepted by the Bayreuth audience.

Technical issues? A few. After all, the film was made thirty years ago. The sound is almost perfect, but there are a couple of occasions where background noise intrudes. Thankfully they're brief. The image quality is somewhat variable, particularly in the darker passages. Again, this isn't obtrusive - I'm just being picky.

Strongly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous, 30 July 2013
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
Absolutely wonderful.
This version of the opera is the seventies at their best. Nudity or near nudity used so beautifully, so strikingly appropriately that you wonder at the marvel of it. Also having the same woman singing both the powerful Venus and the innocent young girl gives the misogyni that might otherwise dominate the opera a softer edge. Wagner no doubt had his difficulties, and as usual death is the only possibility of redemption. Like Tannhaüser he could not - and would not - for the life of him abstain from praising the wonder of love, and we are so privileged in being able to enjoy it in this performance, which can hardly be equalled.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good performance, 21 July 2013
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
The performance was good but I thought the balance between orchestra and singers did not allow the orchestral music to come through. All singers were excellent though and I am pleased to possess this DVD.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near Perfection., 2 Sep 2011
By 
I. Zaneres (west midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
I have one other version of Tannhauser, it is modernistic, the venusburg is inhabited by overgrown writhing caterpillers, and the strange rigid uniforms of practically all the characters detracted from the music. I had a job to work out who was who. Seeing this on my perusings, and being an ardent admirer of Gwyneth Jones. ( she does a wonderful Brunhilde ) I thought why not?
From the ballet in the beginning, beautifully choreographed, I was entranced. I have always thought that Tannhauser contains the best of Wagners themes and orchestrations, the interpretations are fantastic. Wenkoff has a most expressive voice, and a delightfully haunted look, although if Venus sang to me like she does in this production, I would have stayed in the Venusburg.
Weikl as Wolfram is an excellent tenor, he has a purity of tone which I found very pleasing. This is not to detract from the other main characters, all of whom are more than adequate.
The chorus are crisp and clear, light and shade are just right, as is the orchestra.
Costumes are in keeping, the militaristic dress of the Knights reveals the anomolies of their philosophy.
The booklet is informative with headings and timings, background information, amd act by act synopsis.
I would hesitate to try another version for fear of disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific performance, 15 Dec 2013
By 
K. Smith "bookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
My husband wanted to see Tannhauser, but I couldn't find a live performance anywhere so bought this. We watched it while on holiday and found the performance very moving - something that really surprised my husband.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tannhauser, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
I could find little fault with this production. The sound quality, singers, set design and dancers were all good. Gwyneth Jones managed to perform her diverse roles very well. It was also nice to have a British conductor conducting Wagner.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 5 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
Breathtaking. I did not give one more star because dress.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sound problems, 27 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
What the production very carefully but very puzzled that the dynamics are so irregular. The soloists too loud often and can hardly hear the choruses. Probably a very old production with unsophisticated sound equipment. I think that purchasers should be warned
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gwyneth Jones, 22 Jan 2012
This review is from: Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele (DVD)
I first saw Gwyneth Jones in Boulez/Chéreau's Ring, and used to hate her for spoiling it. Now I just hate this Ring's Brünnhild - not Gwyneth Jones: I really enjoyed her performance as Elizabeth and Venus in this Tannhäuser. So, I would advise you not to keep away from this incredible Tannhäuser just because of her (if like me you happen to have disliked very much her Brünnhild)!
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Tannhäuser Richard Wagner: Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele
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