WAGNER: “TANNHAUSER.” Cheryl Studer, Agnes Baltsa, Placido Domingo, Andreas Schmidt, Matti Salminen; Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli. Deutsche Grammophon 427 625-2 (three compact discs).
Even if this were not the first recording in 20 years of the revised, Paris version of the opera, Sinopoli’s bracing performance would attract attention for featuring a new generation of both genuine and hopeful Wagnerians in full flower. In his third studio encounter with the composer, Domingo proves a model minstrel, bringing improved German, even, robust tone and the requisite spiritual anguish to the protagonist. Studer conveys Elizabeth’s redemptive purity in suitably radiant manner. Not the most voluptuous of Venuses, Baltsa scores through sheer intelligence, while Schmidt’s Wolfram and Salminen’s Landgrave are all one could ask. Sinopoli’s conducting sweeps away the conventional “Tannhauser” sanctimoniousness on a rising tide of tension.