www.seenandheard-international.com, 01. Juli 2012
The opera season at the Capitole comes to an end, as Italians would say, in bellezza. If Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes was a real feast for the eyes, Tannhäuser was one for the ears. Both performances were anchored in great performances in the pit of the theater. After a few erratic years Toulouse has recovered its old splendor and today it can be considered the leading opera house in France after its capital.
For this Tannhäuser the Capitole has commissioned a new production from Christian Rizzo who comes from the world of dance. The sets were minimalist, with the first act set on an empty stage; the singing contest in the second act in a big marble hall with pillars. The last act returns to a bare stage, except for a large stone where Elizabeth prays for her beloved Tannhäuser. Most outré are the complicated costumes and strange wigs which were not to my liking. Performed in the so-called Vienna version of 1875, this Tannhäuser included the ballet, although not a particularly attractive choreography. The action takes place in a timeless atmosphere and Christian Rizzo’s direction of his actors does not go beyond tradition, aided by very experienced singers.
Hartmut Haenchen was simply superb on the podium. I have recently enjoyed his interpretations of Salome (Covent Garden) and Lady Macbeth from Mtsenk (Teatro Real, S&H review here), but his Tannhäuser topped that. Indeed, it was one of the best in musical terms that I have witnessed live. Right from the overture it was clear that we were going to attend a great performance. Mr. Haenchen was also immensely careful with the voices on stage, which were never covered by the orchestra. The orchestra was in top form and delivered one the best performances I can remember hearing in Toulouse. The large chorus played along by being excellent, too. ...
José M. Irurzun