To celebrate the end of the year, chief conductor Kirill Petrenko and the Berliner Philharmoniker invite you to enter the world of Richard Wagner’s epic musical dramas. In Tannhäuser, the composer brings two narratives together: the legend of the eponymous minnesinger who lives with the goddess Venus and the tale of the Wartburg Song Contest. Wagner finds the intersection – a masterstroke – in the figure of Elisabeth. As an ascetic Christian who is desired by Tannhäuser, she is set against the pagan eroticism embodied by Venus. How different these worlds are is already revealed in the overture: here a devout pilgrim chorus, there an unbridled bacchanal.
The first act of Wagner’s Walküre, in which Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund) and Vida Miknevičiūtė (Sieglinde) as well as Georg Zeppenfeld (Hunding, Sieglinde’s unloved husband) meet, is a thrilling chamber play of great dramatic unity. In one great arc, Wagner depicts the burgeoning incestuous relationship of the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde, who were separated in early childhood. Their love duet is a poignant highlight of the opera. When Hunding realises the threat to his marriage, he challenges Siegmund to a duel. Wagner gives the emotionally charged scenes a dazzling musical setting that demands top performances not only from the singers, but also from the orchestra, especially in the instrumental interludes.