Svoboda staged the opera Tannhäuser at London’s Covent Garden in collaboration with director Václav Kašlík. The theme of the opera concerns the inner battle of the minnesänger Tannhäuser as he is torn between physical and spiritual love – between the goddess Venus and the young woman Elizabeth. Wagner defined the set changes for the individual acts: Venus’s cave, the forest below Wartburg Castle, and visually linking the spaces in “temptation” in the castle hall, and then again an empty plain. For Venus’s cave, Svoboda came up with an inflatable set – actually the entire mountain chain was composed of feminine curves made of translucent material – in which it was possible to dance. This covered the cross-shaped podium which divided the stage along the diagonal. When the air was released from the inflated set, Venus’s cavern was transformed, in only a matter of seconds, into a remote crossroads with a procession of pilgrims.
Richard Wagner: TANNHÄUSER
Royal Opera House / Covent Garden London
premiere: 17. 9. 1973
director: Václav Kašlík
conductor: Colin Davis
costume designer: Jan Skalický
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