Archive detail

Back to overview

Sun. Nov. 2, 2014, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. Vienna

Richard Wagner


Conductor: Peter Schneider | Director: Claus Guth | With: Kwangchul Youn, Robert Dean Smith, Christian Gerhaher, Camilla Nylund, Iréne Theorin

This production is made possible thanks to the support of
  • Richard Wagner  |  Musik
  • Claus Guth  |  Director
  • Christian Schmidt  |  Stage and costume design
  • Olaf Freese  |  Light Design
  • Konrad Kuhn  |  Dramaturgie
  • Peter Schneider  |  Conductor

Peter Schneider | Conductor

Peter Schneider was born in Vienna and joined the Wiener Sangerknaben at the age of eight, later he studied at the Vienna Music Academy (composition and conducting). First he was répétiteur, director of studies and Kapellmeister in Salzburg and Heidelberg, later first Kapellmeister at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein, where he worked on nearly the entire opera repertoire. In 1978 he became GMD in Bremen. He has regularly conducted in Bayreuth since 1981. After having worked in Bremen, he became opera and General Music Director in Mannheim for two years. In 1993/1994 he became Chief Conductor of the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Bayerische Staatsorchester. He worked there for five years and remains Permanent Guest Conductor at the Bayerische Staatsoper. In 1995 he made his debut at the Met. He made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1984 with Der Rosenkavalier and is honorary member of the house on the ring. He has conducted (selection) Capriccio, Salome, Don Giovanni, Nozze di Figaro, Fidelio, Zauberflöte, Fliegender Holländer, Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Ring des Nibelungen, Parsifal, Tristan und Isolde, Frau ohne Schatten, Palestrina. Conducting for the Wiener Staatsoper 2012/2013: Salome, Die Walküre, Fidelio, Le nozze di Figaro (Japan guest appearance).


Kwangchul Youn | Hermann

Kwangchul Youn was born in Korea and studied at the Chong-Ju University as well as in Sofia and Berlin and was awarded several prizes. In 1988 he made his debut in Seoul, sang at the Korean State Opera in 1989/1990 and then came to Europe. From 1994 until 2004 he was member of the ensemble of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, to which he remains closely linked and where he has for example sung in Aida, La Bohème, Don Carlo, Don Giovanni, Elektra, Fidelio, Nozze di Figaro, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Parsifal, Tannhäuser, Tristan und Isolde and Die Zauberflöte. He has received invitations to the Opera National de Paris and the Paris Theatre du Chatelet, to the RuhrTriennale, to the Dresdner Musikfestspielen, to Barcelona, Valencia, the Salzburger and Bayreuther Festspiele, to the Ravinia Festival, the Met. He is also an internationally successful concert singer. He made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2002 as Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro and has sung Leporello, Ramfis, König Heinrich, Gurnemanz (Parsifal), Philippe II., Mephistopheles and Sarastro here.

Robert Dean Smith | Tannhäuser

Since his successful debut at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1997, US tenor Robert Dean Smith has performed at all the world´s leading opera houses and concert halls, for example in Vienna, Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, London, Milan, San Francisco, Los Angeles or at the New York Metropolitan Opera. His repertoire for example includes roles such as Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Tristan, Stolzing, Bacchus (Ariadne auf Naxos), Manrico (Il trovatore), Alvaro (La forza del destino), Don Carlo, Cavaradossi, Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut), Don José, Enzo (La gioconda), Canio, Florestan, Hermann, Hoffmann and Max. Robert Dean Smith regularly collaborates with leading conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Sir Colin Davis, Christian Thielemann, Antonio Pappano, Bernard Haitink, Gerd Albrecht, Marcello Viotti and Peter Schneider.

He made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper as Stolzing in 1998 and has since then also sung parts such as Erik, Lohengrin, Des Grieux (Manon Lescaut), Tristan, Lohengrin, Siegmund, Florestan, Kaiser (Frau ohne Schatten) here.

Christian Gerhaher | Wolfram von Eschenbach

While studying under Paul Kuen and Raimund Grum­bach at the Munich Hochschule for Music, CHRISTIAN GERHAHER visited the Opera School and then studied there under Friedemann Berger. In addition to a medical degree, he rounded off his vocal training in master classes with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Inge Borkh. Meanwhile, he himself is a passionate teacher. Although he directed his attention to song and concert singing, he has long beena sought after performer on the operatic stage. Under the direction of Riccardo Muti, he sang Papageno at the Salzburger Festspielen. As the Prince of Homburg, he was a guest in Henzes opera with the same name at the Theater an der Wien, as Wolfram at the Teatro Real in Madrid, in Munich and the ROH Covent Garden, where in 2011 he won the famous Laurence Olivier Award. Works like Don Giovanni – again in Frankfurt, where he already sang as Orfeo, Wolfram, Eisenstein and Pelléas – or Posa in Toulouse and the Concert of Olivier at the ROH Covent Garden, show his bandwidth, the role of Wolfram remains a constant in his calendar in the houses in Berlin, London and Munich. He gave his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2010 as Wolfram.

Camilla Nylund | Elisabeth

Camilla Nylund was born in Vaasa (Finland). She studied at the Salzburger Mozarteum. The artist, who has won numerous competitions, was member of the ensemble of the Staatsoper Hannover between 1995 and 1999 and was member of the ensemble of the Sachsische Staatsoper in Dresden from 1999 to 2001. In the year 2008 she was appointed Sachsische Kammersängerin. Guest appearances for example led her to La Scala, the Bayerische Staatsoper, Finnish National Opera, the Teatro La Fenice, the Teatro Carlo Fenice in Genua, the Vlaamse Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Staatsoper Hamburg, the Königliche
Oper Kopenhagen, the Nederlandse Opera, the ROH Covent Garden, Bayreuth and to the Salzburger Festspiele. 

Her most important roles are Salome, Leonore (Fidelio), Figaro and Capriccio Gräfin, Pamina (Zauberflöte), Fiordiligi, Antonia, Marie (Die verkaufte Braut), Eva (Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Rosalinde (Fledermaus), Lisa (Land des Lächelns), Mimi (La Bohème), Tatjana (Eugen Onegin) Ann Trulove (The Rake’s Progress), Marschallin (Rosenkavalier), Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) and Arabella. She made her debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2005 as Salome and has since then also sung Ariadne, Elsa, Feldmarschallin, Rosalinde, Donna Anna, Sieglinde here.

Iréne Theorin | Venus

IRÉNE THEORIN is a regular guest at the world´s most significant opera houses. After her debut as Brünnhilde in Copenhagen, she for example guested in London, Beijing, Budapest, Berlin and Dresden and made her US debut with this role in 2009 at the New York Met as well as in Washington. In 2010, Tokyo followed. In the season 2012/2013 she was Brünnhilde in the Barenboim-Ring at the Staatsoper Berlin and La Scala, at the Wagner Festival in Budapest and in Barcelona. In 2005 she made her debut as Turan­dot in Copenhagen. Appearances as Brünnhilde followed in Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Guanzghou, Dresden and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, at the Met and the Bayerische Staatsoper. In 2006 she sang Isolde for the first time in Brussels, after that in Rotterdam, Washington, Copenhagen, Tokyo and Berlin. Between 2008 and 2012 she sang Isolde at the Bayreuther Festspiele. In 2007 and 2008 she performed Elisabetta (Don Carlo), Tosca and Elisabeth (Tannhäuser) in Copenhagen. Her debut as Santuzza followed in 2012. In 2010 she debuted as Elektra at the Salzburger Festspiele, a role she also interpreted at the Paris Opera. She presented herself to the Viennese public at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2011 as Venus.   

Roles at the Wiener Staatsoper 2014/2015: Venus, Isolde.


Norbert Ernst | Walther von der Vogelweide

NORBERT ERNST studied in Wiener Neustadt under Gerd Fussi and in Vienna under KS Robert Holl. He also recieved important impulses through masterclasses with Kurt Equiluz and Walter Berry. He received his first engagement in 2002 as an ensemble member of the Deutsche Oper am Rhein –Düsseldorf, where he among others, gave a successful debut as David. Guest performances have led the young Austrian tenor to the Wiener Volksoper, Geneva, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin, the Bay­erische Staatsoper, Monte Carlo, the Opéra National Paris, the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, and the Liceu in Barcelona. Since 2004, he receives regular invitations to the Bayreuther Festspielen. In 2013, he worked among others in a new production of the Ring des Nibelungen as Loge. He gave his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2008 as David. Since 2010, he is an ensemble member of the Wiener Staatsoper and has sung here, among others, Steuermann, Kudrjáš, Tamino, Elemér, Jack O’Brien, Triquet, Tanzmeister, Narraboth, Aegisth, Alfred, Jaquino, Andres and Loge. 

Sorin Coliban | Biterolf

SORIN COLIBAN was born in Bucharest and studied there at the Academy of Music. He sang at the ROH Covent Garden, the Paris Opera, in Athens, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, Tel Aviv, at the Rossini Festival in Pesaro, the Bayerische Staatsoper, at the Vienna Festival, the Bregenz Festival and the Wiener Volksoper, to only name a few. His repertoire includes parts such as Philipp II. (Don Carlo), Fiesco (Simon Boccanegra), Procida (Vêpres siciliennes), Ramfis (Aida), Ferrando (Il trovatore), Banquo (Macbeth), Don Giovanni, Leporello and Il Commendatore (Don Giovanni), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Lord Sidney (Il viaggio a Reims), Holländer (Der fliegende Holländer). He made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2004 as Monterone (Rigoletto) and also sang the Grand Inquisiteur (Don Carlos), Landgraf (Tannhäuser), Basilio (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Capulet (Romeo et Juliette), Fra Melitone (La forza del destino), Fasolt (Das Rheingold), Bartolo (Le nozze di Figaro), Colline (La Bohème). 


James Kryshak | Heinrich der Schreiber

The young tenor James Kryshak is a numerous international prize-winner, and since the 2013/2014 season, an ensemble member of the Vienna State Opera. Performances up until this point have led James Kryshak among others, to the New York Metropolitan Opera, and to the Glyndebourne Festival. Under the direction of Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, he sang Richard Strauss’ Salome. His repertoire includes such diverse roles like Monostatos and 1. Priest in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts Die Zauberflöte, Sellem in Igor Strawinskis The Rake’s Progress, Joe in Giacomo Puccinis La fanciulla del West, Snout in Ben­jamin Brittens A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Don Ottavio in Mozarts Don Giovanni, Borsa in Giuseppe Verdis Rigoletto, Scaramuccio in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos, Ernesto in Gaetano Donizettis Don Pasquale, Pelléas in Claude Debussys Pelléas et Mélisande and Camille in Franz Lehárs Die lustige Witwe). At the Vienna State Opera, he has sung among others Hirt (Tris­tan and Isolde), Missail (Boris Godunow), 3. Jew (Salome), Spoletta (Tosca), Borsa (Rigo­letto), Scaramuccio (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Schulmeister (Schlaues Füchslein) up until this point.


Roles for the Wiener Staatsoper 2013/2014: among others 1. Priest in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (Premierenproduktion), Missail in Modest Mussorgskis Boris Godunow, Borsa in Rigoletto, Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos, School master in Leoš Janáceks Das schlaue Füchslein (Premierenproduktion).


Roles for the Wiener Staatsoper 2014/2015: Heinrich der Schreiber, Schulmeister, Abbé (Andrea Chénier).

Dan Paul Dumitrescu | Reinmar von Zweter

Dan Paul Dumitrescu was born in Bucharest (Romania) in 1966. Initially he studied clarinet, then voice at the Music Academy in Bucharest. In 1996 he attended the International Academy for Opera in Verona. Immediately after completing his vocal studies at the Music Academy, he was engaged at the Bucharest Opera. He has won numerous national and international singing competitions.

Dan Paul Dumitrescu appeared as a guest on important stages, for example, the Royal Albert Hall, the Arena di Verona, La Scala in Milan, the New Israeli Opera, the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, the Wiener Musikverein, furthermore he performed in Munich, Budapest, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and at the Salzburg Festival.

In 2000 he made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper and has been a member of the company since 2001. His repertoire includes more than 50 bass roles, e.g. Sarastro, Pimen, Gremin, Procida, Enrico VIII., Ramfis, Pistola, Sparafucile, Banquo, Raimondo, Oroveso, Graf Des Grieux, Balthazar, Colline, Timur, Pietro, Grenvil, Graf Rodolfo, Mönch and Großinquisitor (Don Carlos in italian and french version).

Annika Gerhards | Ein junger Hirt

The soprano ANNIKA GERHARDS completed her vocal studies at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main and completed her studies in masterclasses among others under KS Brigitte Fassbaender, Kle­sie Kelly-Moog, Helen Donath and Eva Marton. She is a prizewinner of several different competitions, like for example the Bruno Fry-Musikpreises and the Bundeswettbewerbs Gesang. Furthermore, she was awarded the Händel-prize from the city of Karlsruhe several times, and in 2013 won the first prize in the competiton . “Das Lied”. Until now, Annika Gerhards has sung roles such as Zaide, Valen­cienne and Frasquita, and was a guest at the Staatstheater Darmstadt, at the Händel-Festspielen Karlsruhe and at the Rheingau Musik Festival. In December 2014, she will sing under Jonathan Nott in Mahler‘s 8th Symphony in Japan. Since the 2013/2014 season, Annika Gerhards is an ensemble member of the Wiener Staatsoper where she gave her debut as Giannetta in Gaetano Donizettis L‘elisir d’amore.


Act One

Tannhäuser has left the group of singers gathered at the Wartburg by Hermann, Landgrave of Thuringia, and immersed himself in the dreamlike world of the Venusberg. There he loses all sense of space and time. What happens to him awakens in him an overpowering desire to return to the real world outside. In vain Venus tries to persuade him to remain with her. Although he extols the wonders he has experienced with her, and swears to champion her cause out in the world, he nevertheless wishes to leave her forever. She warns him that he will be disappointed by humanity’s coldness, and that he will return filled with remorse. He counters that he intends to do penance and fins salvation in the Virgin Mary. At this he collapses, and the Venusberg disappears.
a young boy is singing the praises of the goddess Holda and the approaching spring. Tannhäuser is brought back to his senses by the boy’s pastoral song and the sound of an English horn, and a crowd of pilgrims passes by. The boy wishes them luck on their journey to Rome. Oppressed by the weight of their sins, the pilgrims sing prayers to the Virgin Mary. Tannhäuser joins in their penance and prays that God will have mercy on him.
The sound of horns announces the arrival of the landgrave’s party, which is out hunting with the singers. The knights recognize Tannhäuser, and speak to him about how he left them after a quarrel. Tannhäuser is adamant that the dispute is over, but that he does not wish to return amongst them. At Hermann’s insistence, his friend Wolfram von Eschenbach tells him that Elizabeth, the landgrave’s niece, has been wistful ever since his departure – apparently due to a disappointed love. On hearing this, Tannhäuser resolves to join the Knights in order to see Elisabeth once more.


Act Two

Elisabeth returns for the first time to the prestigious hall where she fell in love with Tannhäuser and his song. Her joy that she will soon be reunited with him is tempered by the memory of the feelings aroused in her by Tannhäuser’s sudden departure. When Wolfram brings Tannhäuser to her, Elisabeth tells him of the humiliation he caused her by his mysterious disappearance. Tannhäuser evades her questions about where he has been. Instead he praises the “god of love” to whom he attributes the miracle of his return. Both feel that his is the start of a new life for them, whilst Wolfram, who secretly loves Elisabeth, sees his hopes vanish.

Hermann calls on his niece Elisabeth to open her heart to him. With just a single look, she lets him know that she is still in love with Tannhäuser. He makes her the princess of the forthcoming festivities, to which he has invited the nobility of the land to celebrate Tannhäuser’s return. Once the guests have assembled, the singers invited by the landgrave to compete in a song contest enter the hall. They are to extol the nature of Love in their songs: the victor will be allowed to choose the prize which he will receive from Elisabeth’s hand.

Wolfram sings the praises of love as a spiritual virtue which can only be lived up to by renunciation. Walther von der Vogelweide and Biterolf also praise this deal, for which they are willing to sacrifice their lives. Tannhäuser retorts that the miracle of love can be experienced only through sensual pleasure. As the dispute comes to a head, he breaks Venusberg. Disgusted, the self-appointed adjudicators threaten to kill Tannhäuser, but Elisabeth springs to protect him. She openly admits how deeply Tannhäuser’s betrayel has offended her. Nevertheless, she insists that he be allowed to do penance. The landgrave banishes Tannhäuser, insisting that he join a group of pilgrims travelling to Rome to beg the Pope’s forgiveness for his sins. Tannhäuser realizes what he has done to Elisabeth. Distant singing proclaims the departure of the young pilgrims following the procession of older wayfarers, and Tannhäuser determines to join them.


Act Three

Wolfram comes upon Elisabeth, who is waiting for Tannhäuser’s return. It is already autumn, and the older pilgrims return from Rome singing of the Grace which they have received. However, Tannhäuser is not amongst them. Elisabeth beseeches the Virgin Mary to allow her to die so that she may pray for forgiveness for Tannhäuser in heaven. When Wolfram tries to accompany her, she turns him away. He asks the evening star to guide Elisabeth on her final journey.
A broken Tannhäuser enters. He tells Wolfram that his pilgrimage has been in vain. Although he did the most severe penance, the Pope refused to give him absolution, cursing him because of his sojourn in the Venusberg. Tannhäuser now intends to return again to Venus, who is prepared to forgive him. However, Wolfram reminds Tannhäuser of Elisabeth, who has sacrificed her life for him. At the sight of her dead body, Tannhäuser collapses and dies. The gathering at the Wartburg marvels at the miracle of Tannhäuser’s salvation, which has just been proclaimed by the young pilgrims.