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YMMV / Tannhäuser

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Depending on the production, Heinrich has been depicted as everything from a weak-willed sensualist to a bold artist rebelling against a repressive proto-Nazi society. Venus is sometimes presented as the old Paganism, the life-giving force of sex, the source of true-inspiration, or a mere figment of Heinrich's psychotic imagination.
    • Elisabeth's love for Heinrich may be seen as natural female sexual attraction to an arrogant, fickle renegade (as listed under All Girls Want Bad Boys on the main page). In the alternative, it may be the opposite—divinely inspired by God, to teach the world a lesson about Christian redemption. Wagner's own experience as a badboy seducer argues for the former; the Christian context of the legend argues for the latter. A third possibility is suggested by Wolfram - that Heinrich's songs won her heart (despite, not because of, his worst characteristics).
  • Designated Hero: Heinrich is traditionally the least popular of Wagner's heroes, being a wishy-washy whiner and obviously far less worthy of Elisabeth than Wolfram.
    • The great Canadian heldentenor Jon Vickers, who had a voice that was right for the role of Heinrich, nevertheless refused to sing the role for the above reasons.
  • Moment of Awesome: The tour-de-force at the end of the second act, when the fortissimo, mostly tenor, baritone, and bass, ensemble of the nobles is interrupted unexpectedly by the pianissimo soprano chorus of the younger pilgrims. Breath-taking.
    • And the horn-calls at the end of the first act...which are monstrously hard on the French Horn players, but are like nothing else in the operatic canon.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: No less a figure than G.K. Chesterton complained that Wagner's last-minute redemption of Heinrich spoiled the entire point of the original legend. (To be sure, he was less than familiar with the opera, having no ear for music.)


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