Dutch National Opera presents

Tannhäuser Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

Saint or sinner: Venus vs. Elisabeth

Duration 4:15

Breaks 2

By Richard Wagner

Language German

Surtitles Dutch and English

With its splendid choral movements, Wagner’s ‘romantische Oper’ Tannhäuser is a true ‘singers’ opera’. German conductor Christof Loy has signed on for this fresh staging.

Sacred and profane love

Tannhäuser is the story of a knight-poet who is unable to choose between sacred love (Elisabeth) and profane love (Venus). To oblige the Paris Jockey Club, Wagner opened the first act with a racy bacchanal for dancers.

Venus versus Elisabeth

Weary of Venus, Tannhäuser returns home to Saxony. But during a singing contest on ‘the nature of Love’, he praises Venus, shocking everyone present except the Landgrave Hermann’s niece, Elisabeth, who defends him. To make amends, Tannhäuser goes on a pilgrimage to Rome in hopes of a papal pardon. Unsuccessful, he decides to return to Venus, but finally finds redemption when the pious Elisabeth sacrifices her life as a peace offering to God.

From number opera to musical drama

For both Tannhäuser and his later Lohengrin, Richard Wagner drew on medieval songs, sagas and tales of courtly love. His narrative focuses on the rebellion of an artist whose desire to succumb to carnal lust engenders a conflict with his religious intellect; an inner dichotomy embodied by the two women he loves. Tannhäuser marks a key step in the progression from the number opera to the musical drama.

Christof Loy

Tannhäuser is Christof Loy’s first Wagner opera presentation for DNO. Known for his meticulous productions, he is a frequent guest at Europe’s major opera houses and festivals. Loy is the recipient of the Musikpreis der Stadt Duisburg, a Laurence Olivier Award for Tristan und Isolde (ROH Covent Garden) and the International Opera Award 2017 for best director, and has been hailed as director of the year by Opernwelt three times now. At DNO, Loy impressed audiences with his productions of Les vêpres siciliennes, Arabella, Chovansjtsjina and La forza del destino.

Marc Albrecht

After Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Parsifal and Tristan und Isolde, chief conductor Marc Albrecht adds a fourth Wagner title to his arsenal of DNO productions.

The singers

A leading performer of Tannhäuser, Daniel Kirch makes his debut at DNO. Among the cast are also familiar faces, including Stephen Milling (Fasolt in Das Rheingold) as Landgrave Hermann, Svetlana Aksenova (The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh en Pique Dame) as Elisabeth and Ekaterina Gubanova (Eboli in Don Carlo) as Venus.


Along with the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has been the regular orchestra partner of Dutch National Opera since 1985, and is internationally regarded as one of the best opera orchestras. Each season, the two orchestras perform the majority of the opera productions in Dutch National Opera & Ballet. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra gives a varied programme of concerts in the Concertgebouw and also performs at other major concert halls and festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Marc Albrecht is the principal conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and of Dutch National Opera. In recent seasons, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra has had great success with audiences and international press alike, with productions including Gurre-Lieder, Lohengrin, Der Rosenkavalier, Il Trovatore and Hänsel und Gretel. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Marc Albrecht, received an Edison for their recording of the DNO production Der Schatzgräber, in December 2014.

Christof Loy


Christof Loy is a sought-after opera director. His extremely detailed productions have been performed at the major opera houses and festivals in Europe, including ROH Covent Garden, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Theater an der Wien, Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Bayerische Staatsoper, Opernhaus Zürich and the Salzburger Festspiele.

Marc Albrecht

Chief Conductor

Marc Albrecht, Chief Conductor of The Dutch National Opera and The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra|The Netherlands Chamber Orchestra is known not only for his interpretations of works by Wagner and Richard Strauss, but also for his affinity for contemporary music.

Team, Cast and Chorus

Musical Director
Marc Albrecht
Stage director, choreography
Christof Loy
Johannes Leiacker
Ursula Renzenbrink
Olaf Winter
Klaus Bertisch
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra
Chorus of Dutch National Opera
Ching-Lien Wu
Hermann, Landgraf von Thüringen
Stephen Milling
Daniel Kirch
Wolfram von Eschenbach
Björn Bürger
Walther von der Vogelweide
Attilio Glaser
Kay Stiefermann
Heinrich der Schreiber
Lucas van Lierop - De Nationale Opera Studio
Reinmar von Zweter
Cody Quattlebaum - De Nationale Opera Studio
Svetlana Aksenova
Ekaterina Gubanova
Ein junger hirt
4 edelknaben
    Wed 14 Feb Classical Voice America on Daniel Kirch as Tannhäuser

    ‘His dark tenor voice has ample volume and nice colors, and he is dramatically compelling.'