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Tannhäuser has left the circle of singers that Landgrave Hermann of Thuringia has assembled at Wartburg Castle and has immersed himself in the dream realm of the Venusberg.

There he loses his sense of space and time. What he encounters causes his longing to return to the real world to become overpowering. Venus tries in vain to persuade him to stay with her. Although he sings of the wonders he has experienced with her and vows to go out into the world as her champion, he wants to leave her forever. He counters her warning that he will be disappointed by the "cold people" and return to her in repentance with the resolution to repent and find his salvation with Mary. He then collapses; the Venusberg sinks.

A boy sings of the goddess Holda and thus of the approaching spring. The boy's shepherd song and the sound of a shawm bring Tannhäuser to his senses. A crowd of penitents passes him by. The boy wishes them luck on their way to Rome. The pilgrims lament the burden of their sins and pray to the Virgin Mary in song. Tannhäuser joins in their self-accusation and hopes for God's mercy. The sound of horns announces the company of the Landgrave, who is out hunting with the singers.

The knights recognize Tannhäuser. They tell him that he has left them in a quarrel. Tannhäuser declares the quarrel over, but does not want to return to their circle. His friend Wolfram von Eschenbach tells him, prompted by Hermann, that Elisabeth, the Landgrave's niece, has fallen into a melancholy mood since his departure - apparently out of disappointed love. Tannhäuser then decides to join the knights in order to see Elisabeth again.



Elisabeth returns for the first time to the festive place where she learned to love Tannhäuser and his songs.

Her joy at the imminent reunion is mixed with the memory of what Tannhäuser's sudden departure had triggered in her. When Wolfram leads Tannhäuser to her, Elisabeth speaks of the hurt he has caused her by his mysterious disappearance. Tannhäuser evades her question as to where he has been; instead, he praises the "God of love", to whom he attributes the miracle of his return. Both feel revived, while Wolfram, who secretly loves Elisabeth, sees all hope fading for himself. Hermann asks his niece Elisabeth to open her heart to him. With just a glance, she lets him know that she loves Tannhäuser.

He declares her the princess of the forthcoming feast, to which he has invited the nobles of his land on the occasion of Tannhäuser's return. After the guests have arrived, the singers whom the Landgrave has called to compete also appear. In their songs, they are to fathom the essence of love; the winner may choose the prize he is to receive from Elisabeth's hand. Wolfram praises love as a spiritual value that can only be lived up to through renunciation. Walther von der Vogelweide and Biterolf also sing of this ideal, to which they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. Tannhäuser counters that love can only work its wonders through sensual pleasure.

As the argument comes to a head, he breaks out into a song of praise to Venus and confesses that he has been to Venusberg. The self-appointed female judges threaten him with indignation; Elisabeth then stands in front of him with a bow. She publicly declares how deeply Tannhäuser's betrayal of her has affected her. Nevertheless, she demands that he be given the opportunity to repent. The Landgrave banishes Tannhäuser and asks him to go to Rome with the pilgrims and ask the Pope to forgive his sins. Tannhäuser has realized what he has done to Elisabeth. When distant singing announces the departure of the younger pilgrims, who are following the procession of the older pilgrims, he wants to join them.



Wolfram meets Elisabeth, who is waiting for Tannhäuser to return.

It is now fall: The elderly pilgrims return from Rome and sing of the grace that has been bestowed upon them; but Tannhäuser does not come back. Elisabeth begs Our Lady to let her die so that she can ask for mercy for Tannhäuser in heaven. When Wolfram wants to accompany her, she rejects him. He asks the evening star to greet Elisabeth on her last journey. Tannhäuser appears broken.

He tells Wolfram about his futile pilgrimage: Although he has imposed the harshest penance on himself, the Pope has refused him absolution and cursed him for his stay in the Venusberg. Now he wants to turn to Venus again, who forgives him. But Wolfram reminds Tannhäuser of Elisabeth, who sacrificed herself for him. Tannhäuser also collapses dead on her corpse, while the Wartburg society praises the miracle of his redemption, which the younger pilgrims proclaim.


ACT 1 - 75 MIN


ACT 2 - 80 MIN


ACT 36 - 0 MIN

Program and cast

Landgrave Hermann: Günther Groissböck
Tannhäuser: Clay Hilley
Wolfram von Eschenbach: Ludovic Tézier
Walther von der Vogelweide: Daniel Jenz
Biterolf: Wolfgang Bankl
Heinrich the Scribe: Lukas Schmidt
Reinmar von Zweter: Marcus Pelz
Elisabeth: Malin Byström
Venus: Ekaterina Gubanova
A young shepherd: Ilia Staple


Musical direction: Philippe Jordan
Direction: Lydia Steier
Stage & video: Momme Hinrichs
Costumes: Alfred Mayerhofer
Choreography: Tabatha McFadyen
Light: Elana Siberski

Vienna State Opera

Public Transport

Subway lines: U1, U2, U4
Trams: 1, 2, D, J, 62, 65
Buses: 59A
Local Railway: Badner Bahn
Stops: Karlsplatz / Opera

Taxi stands are available nearby.


Parking is only € 6, - for eight hours!

The Wiener Staatsoper and the ÖPARK Kärntner Ring Garage on Mahlerstraße 8, under the “Ringstraßengalerien”, offer the patrons of the Vienna State Opera a new, reduced parking fee. You can park in the Kärntner Ring Garage for up to 8 hours and pay only a flat fee of € 6, -. Just validate your ticket at one of the discount machines inside the Wiener Staatsoper. The normal rate will be charged for parking time greater than 8 hours. The validation machines can be found at the following coat checks: Operngasse, Herbert von Karajan-Platz, and the right and left and balcony galleries.

Important: In order to get the discount, please draw a ticket and do not use your credit card when entering the garage!

After devaluing your ticket in the Wiener Staatsoper you can pay comfortably by credit card or cash at the vending machines.

The machines accept coins and bills up to 50.- Euro. Parking time longer than 8 hours will be charged at the normal rate.


The structure of the opera house was planned by the Viennese architect August Sicard von Sicardsburg, while the inside was designed by interior decorator Eduard van der Nüll. It was also impacted by other major artists such as Moritz von Schwind, who painted the frescoes in the foyer, and the famous "Zauberflöten" (“Magic Flute”) series of frescoes on the veranda. Neither of the architects survived to see the opening of ‘their’ opera house: the sensitive van der Nüll committed suicide, and his friend Sicardsburg died of a stroke soon afterwards.


On May 25, 1869, the opera house solemnly opened with Mozart's Don Giovanni in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.
The popularity of the building grew under the artistic influence of the first directors: Franz von Dingelstedt, Johann Herbeck, Franz Jauner, and Wilhelm Jahn. The Vienna opera experienced its first high point under the direction of Gustav Mahler. He completely transformed the outdated performance system, increased the precision and timing of the performances, and also utilized the experience of other noteworthy artists, such as Alfred Roller, for the formation of new stage aesthetics.


The years 1938 to 1945 were a dark chapter in the history of the opera house. Under the Nazis, many members of the house were driven out, pursued, and killed, and many works were not allowed to be played.


On March 12, 1945, the opera house was devastated during a bombing, but on May 1, 1945, the “State Opera in the Volksoper” opened with a performance of Mozart's THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. On October 6, 1945, the hastily restored “Theaters an der Wien” reopened with Beethoven's FIDELIO. For the next ten years the Vienna State Opera operated in two venues while the true headquarters was being rebuilt at a great expense.


The Secretary of State for Public Works, Julius Raab, announced on May 24, 1945, that reconstruction of the Vienna State Opera would begin immediately. Only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer had been spared from the bombs. On November 5, 1955, the Vienna State Opera reopened with a new auditorium and modernized technology. Under the direction of Karl Böhm, Beethoven’s FIDELIO was brilliantly performed, and the opening ceremonies were broadcast by Austrian television. The whole world understood that life was beginning again for this country that had just regained its independence.


Today, the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world; in particular, it is the house with the largest repertoire. It has been under the direction of Dominique Meyer since September 1, 2010.

© Bwag/Commons
© Wiener Staatsoper
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