We were wrong. Thank God. And the allusion to fedoras was not a dig at the previous general director (even though she indulged in them) but to last year’s LA opera production of the same Tannhäuser, also with Peter Seiffert and Petra Maria Schnitzer. You can check out that one here, but we like ours better, thanks.
This show blew us away, on all counts. Stage production, singing, orchestra were all magnificent. The set was (like in Iphigenie) bare-bone and claustrophobic. The set resembled a post-nuclear war subway station so much so that we expected Tannhäuser to return to earth from Venus' underground lair via an elevator. (He did not; instead a child alter-ego goes through a vagina-shaped tree contraption to symbolize his re-birth.)
Stage director Graham Vick uses the most out of the terse backdrop: it remains the same for all three acts, all four hours of the performance, and we never tired of it.
Link to OutWestArts by way of Sid, we believe. Pictures courtesy of SF Opera/Terrence McCarthy, above the chorus and Peter Seiffert, below Peter Seiffert, Petra Lang, Petra Maria Schnitzer respectively.