Narration as Drama: Wagner's Early Revisions of Tannhäuser and their Relation to the Rome Narrative

October 1, 1984

Tannhäuser is virtually unique in Wagner's output. If he did indeed make the oft-quoted remark ascribed to him by Cosima, "I still owe the world a Tannhäuser,"1 we can only assume that even in his last years, Wagner felt that this much-revised opera was fundamentally unfinished. From the beginning, Wagner was dissatisfied with various aspects of the Tannhäuser score. Shortly after the first performance (at Dresden, on October 19, 1845), he revised the orchestral Einleitung (Introduction) to Act III; and in the course of the next two years, he extensively rewrote the Act III Finale, first given in its new form on August 1, 1847. The changes made for the 1861 production at the Paris Opera, which center around the ballet sequence which opens the first act and the ensuing scene for Venus and Tannhäuser, have been well documented.2

For the most part, as has been often remarked, Wagner's changes involve the part of Venus, or those portions of the score that concern her realm. While Venus only figures in the first act of the original version, Wagner drastically recast the Act III Finale to allow for her appearance in the August, 1847 performance. Wagner's overriding concern with Venus is demonstrated in a highly graphic manner in some of the draft revisions for the new Act I Venus scene intended for Paris. Carolyn Abbate has pointed out one instance from the beginning of the scene where Wagner didn't even trouble over writing out Tannhäuser's part: only the new music (that is, Venus') is sketched, while blank spaces are left for the lines supplied by Tannhäuser.3

Wagner's renewed interest in recasting Venus for the 1861 performances is not difficult to understand. After all, he had just completed Tristan, and the atmosphere of that work is recreated at a number of points in the Tannhäuser revision—perhaps most notably in Venus' response to the second strophe of Tannhäuser's Lied. The revised Venus occupies a highly charged chromatic world that is not far removed from that of Tristan and Isolde.

Yet, there is another aspect of Wagner's Tannhäuser revisions that has received considerably less critical attention. What bearing, if any, do these changes have on the character of Tannhäuser himself and his music? Does he remain the same character, or do the alterations that were made, in a literal sense, around him, alter our view of him to a significant extent? One of Wagner's letters to Mathilde Wesendonk is more than a little interesting in this regard. By the summer of 1860, Wagner had decided to completely rewrite the Act I Venus scene:

I have found Lady Venus too stiff: her character has been fairly well delineated, but it has no real life. I've written a new series of verses for her: the Goddess of Bliss has become truly moving, and Tannhäuser's pain is now genuine, so that his call to the Virgin bursts from his soul like a deep and fearful cry.4

The last phrases are crucial, for they show that although Wagner's ostensible aim was to write new text and music for Venus, he was equally concerned with the effect that the Venus revisions would have on our perception of Tannhäuser. Wagner's development of Venus' part ensures that the climax of the scene, at Tannhäuser's "Anruf der Maria," emerges as the natural outcome of the intense dialogue which precedes it. By transforming Venus into a "truly moving" character, Wagner foresaw the dramatization of Tannhäuser as well.

The earlier revisions of Act III present a similar situation. Again, most of the changes occurred around Tannhäuser's part, but Wagner never lost sight of their relationship to Tannhäuser himself. More specifically, Wagner altered a great deal of the musical material surrounding Tannhäuser's celebrated Rome Narrative: the Act III Einleitung, which foreshadows many details in the Narrative, and the closing ensemble, which proceeds directly from the Narrative. In so doing, it would seem that Wagner was ever mindful of the new light in which he was casting the Narrative itself. The following discussion focuses on these early revisions, and will explore in greater detail the manner in which they helped to dramatize a long stretch of music—the Rome Narrative—that remained essentially untouched. I will also suggest that the well-nigh radical disposition of the Narrative might well have demanded Wagner's numerous revisions; and a closer look at the Narrative's highly individual structure can help us to better understand the manner in which it presages constructive techniques that were brought to perfection in the later music dramas.

Most critics would probably agree with Liszt's assertion that the Rome Narrative, a masterful mixture of "recitative, word, shout, cry [and] sardonic laughter, . . . forms a drama within the larger drama."5 Yet, the nature of the drama in this powerful monologue requires closer definition; for the term "drama" has been so loosely applied that, as one critic has put it, ". . . its convenience is its vacancy."6 If the Narrative is dramatic at all, it is so by virtue of its carrying Tannhäuser from pained reminiscences of a doleful past to a terrifying and hallucination-ridden present.

In the dialogue with Wolfram which precedes the Narrative, we have already heard Tannhäuser announce that he again seeks the path to the Venusberg:

T. Doch such ich wen, der mir den Weg wohl zeige,
den Weg, den einst so wunderleicht ich fand.
W. Und welchen Weg?
T. Den Weg zum Venusberg!

Wolfram, recoiling in horror, prods Tannhäuser to tell of his experiences. The great Narrative commences as Tannhäuser recounts the tale of his arduous trip to the Holy See, his arrival there midst the tolling of bells and the singing of celestial anthems, the Pope's absolving the multitude, his own approach to the Pontiff, and the sharp denial. Then only one path remained open to the accursed Minnesinger: a return to the Venusberg, to the hellish enchantments of Frau Venus. And it is at the point where Tannhäuser switches from the past to the present tense in invoking the enchantress ("Zu dir, Frau Venus, kehr' ich wieder . . .") that narration gives way to drama. Thus, it is through the Narrative that Tannhäuser "finds the way" that he sought in his earlier dialogue with Wolfram; only after he relives his Rome journey, via narration, does he actually call up the person of the Goddess of Love.

In the original version, Venus had not appeared. Wagner had merely indicated, in the stage directions, that the distant Hörselberg was to give off a rosy glow. But after the first performance, Wagner realized that this purely scenic effect was insufficient. In a letter to Theodor Uhlig of September, 1851, he related that the original ending "only gave a hint of that which had to be impressed upon the senses as an actuality."7 Wagner was thus beginning to develop an idea that was to play an important role in the aesthetic of the later music dramas: the notion that drama was virtually synonymous with the musical/visual metaphor.8 Writing to Louis Schindelmeisser on May 30, 1852, he asserted:

The music [for Tannhäuser] will be effective only if it concords closely with the action and the entire production, that is, when the action and presentation are so fashioned that the music is justified and made understandable through them. If you would trouble yourself to follow my orchestral part carefully, then you could attest that it has no outstanding trait that is not clearly connected, in a completely tangible fashion, with that which is presented on the stage for the audience to see, whether this be the scene itself, or a motion, or even an expression.9

The appearance of Venus, then, is more than a theatrical ploy; she supplies the visual metaphor for Tannhäuser's madness, and for the music itself. Just as significant is the fact that she represents the culmination of a process initiated in the Narrative. Tannhäuser's personal hallucination has been transformed into a vivid tableau for all to see.

I shall return to the Act III Finale at a later point in this discussion. For now, let us turn to an examination of the Act III Einleitung ("Tannhäuser's Pilgrimage") and its relationship to the Narrative.

In its original form,10 the orchestral Einleitung to Act III foreshadowed practically every turn in the Narrative itself (see Table 1).




Yet Wagner soon realized the shortcomings of this arrangement. In Wagner's terms, large-scale recurrence (which is certainly common enough in the Ring, Tristan, and Parsifal) is only effective when musical events have already been supplied with visual analogues. Thus, in order to make sense of the extended Einleitung, the listener must refer backwards from the Narrative. Or, as Wagner put it, "I allowed the subject of expression to betray me into almost recitative-like phrases for the orchestra; . . . their meaning might well be intelligible to myself, who carried in my head the picture of the incidents thus foreshadowed, but not to others. . . ."11

The principal motives of the original Einleitung, which an older generation of exegetes termed Gebrochenheit (wretchedness), Gnadenfest (Feast of Grace), and Fluch (curse), recur in more or less the same order in the Narrative, where their dramatic meaning is "explained." The correspondence is perhaps most striking between measures 54-126 of the Pilgrimage and measures 70-144 of the Narrative, where tonal as well as motivic details are practically identical. The central portion of the revised Einleitung (corresponding to measures 41-131 of the original) was drastically curtailed; ninety measures were replaced with less than thirty. In the process, Wagner excised an entire motive complex, that associated with the Pope's curse.

It was to the various statements of the Fluch motive that Wagner was undoubtedly referring when he spoke of "recitative-like phrases for the orchestra." The omission from the revised Einleitung is significant, not only because it would be impossible for the listener to guess the "meaning" of the halting phrases of the Fluch motive, but also because it is this motive which will serve as a frame for the Narrative. Its motivic function and tonal characteristics, as we will see, allow Wagner to place the Narrative in sharper relief. A twofold usage, in the Einleitung and the Narrative, would have been anticlimactic.

The Fluch motive first occurs, in the revision, in the opening measures of Act III, scene iii, where it supplies the orchestral underpinning for the Tannhäuser/Wolfram dialogue. At its next appearance, immediately preceding the Narrative, the pitch level of the motive has dropped by a half step, and here it remains for the duration of the scene (see Ex. 1). The motive centers entirely around the diminished seventh chord, the harmonic implications of which are explored in the ensuing monologue.


Ex. 1. The Fluch motive as it precedes Tannhäuser's Narrative, Act III, scene iii




According to the textbooks, the VII°7 spelled as it is in Ex. 1 should suggest E (Major or Minor), and in its various respellings, G, B-flat, or D-flat (Major or Minor) are all possible resolutions. But in much nineteenth-century music, the chord is often part of a progression that proceeds VII°7-V-I; that is, the VII°7 is a signal for the tonality a fifth below the chord of resolution. This is the case in Ex. 1, where the Fluch motive forms part of a cadential formula in A Minor: VII°7-i-(V)-i. When the motive recurs later in the Narrative (at the point where Tannhäuser speaks the Pope's damning words to a series of repeated E-flats: "Hast du so böse Lust getheilt . . .," [m. 128 ff.])12it has been preceded by a cadential figure that suggests E-flat Minor (and Tannhäuser's E-flats are left unharmonized). Lastly, the motive supplies the orchestral tag for the Pope's pronouncement. Here we expect a cadence in E-flat Minor, but the VII°7 veers off toward A Minor (mm. 144-49). Thus, the VII°7 of the Fluch motive is more than an isolated motivic/harmonic detail, more than a conventional musical symbol of unrest. The tension of the chord is manifested on a larger scale by the A Minor/E-flat Minor tonal dissonance upon which the Narrative hinges.13 By omitting the motive from the Einleitung, and the tonal tension which it generates, Wagner therefore dramatizes the Narrative.

By measure 149 the Narrative appears to have come full circle; it may end as it began, in A Minor. But Wagner does not allow it to end. The E in the bass (suggesting V/A Minor) of measure 149 remains unresolved, while the next measure commences with the Gnadenfest motive in a remote D-flat. This gives way, in turn, to the fiercely abrupt "transition" (m. 158ff.) which makes way for Tannhäuser's invocation of Venus. In short, narration becomes drama; passive reflection is swept away to prepare for the entrance of Frau Venus.

None of these disruptive elements were allowed to intrude on the revised Einleitung, which remained within the bounds of the Overture tradition. Its purpose was "to set the mood required for that which follows," nothing more.14 As such, the revised Einleitung is characterized by formal and tonal coherence; Wagner never strays very far from E-flat. And while the Narrative still employs material first heard in the Einleitung, it is the manner in which the two are differentiated that is of moment. Whereas the relatively static Einleitung is self-contained, the Narrative, as precipitator of dramatic action, is framed by a tonal dissonance, A Minor/E-flat, and attempts to "destroy" its form at every turn.

The last point requires further elaboration, for an understanding of the role played by formal fragmentation in the Narrative is crucial in evaluating the kind of continuity which Wagner achieved in the revised Act III Finale.15Tannhäuser as a whole is dominated by closed forms; it is, after all, still a Romantische Oper, not a music drama. Yet the self-contained forms are not applied from without. The prominence of the Lied, in particular, is demanded by an opera whose protagonist is a Minnesinger, a character who expresses himself most naturally in song. The four-square, strophic song with which Tannhäuser addresses Venus in Act I (along with its fourth and final strophe, given out in the Tournament of Song which closes Act II), serves as a paradigmatic representation of Tannhäuser as musician. Thus, it is no accident that he should speak most forcefully through the medium of the Lied. By the last scene of Act III, however, Tannhäuser is unable to sing as he did before. The highly irregular design of the Narrative is, in a sense, musically analogous to Tannhäuser's tortured state of mind. It serves as an antithesis to what Reinhold Brinkmann calls the "hymnic/march-like bel canto" of the Preislied,16 for in it the traditional Romantic Lied is destroyed both in form and content.

Part I of the Narrative (see Table 2) is divided into two roughly parallel halves. But while this design feature clearly suggests, or is analogous to, the strophic layout of the typical Lied, there are several disruptive features that deny the Lied influence.




The vocal writing, which hovers between recitative and impassioned arioso, is anything but song-like. The phrases are often of regular length (i.e., of four or eight measures), but groupings within the phrases are often irregular, and the relationship between phrases is never that of the conventional period. The Narrative begins, for example, with an eight-measure phrase, but it is constructed as a 3 & 3 & 2, not as a 4 & 4 unit. The open tonal design (A MinorF) in each "strophe" is equally disquieting, as is the expansion of the central portion of the second "strophe." Thus, part I of the Narrative is conceived as a series of song fragments, and an abrupt orchestral transition brings us to yet another.

Part II is also divided into parallel halves, but here it is the orchestra which gives out the "himmlische Gesänge." For the most part, Tannhäuser is left to declaim over the orchestral melody; only in the second "strophe" does his vocal line occasionally concord with the Gnadenfest melody in the orchestra. And again, the tonal design is left open: the first "strophe" is largely in D-flat, while the second moves to B-flat. In Part III, the return of the Gebrochenhei motive seems to signal a rounding off of the form of the Narrative, for it was this motive which initiated, and dominated, much of Part I. But after six measures, it plays itself out. The motivic fabric is suspended in both voice and orchestra and gives way to accompanied recitative, which in turn culminates in the intoning of the Pope's pronouncement on a single E-flat. Lastly, as I have already pointed out in discussing the Fluch motive, the Narrative is denied a proper close. The A Minor cadence which we expect after measure 149 does not materialize. Instead, all is directed toward the invocation of Venus. An image of completeness has only been fleetingly suggested, while the overall impression is one of fragmentation.

The revised Finale makes its effect, in large measure, by continuing to proceed as a series of song fragments. While it was Wagner's intention to transform reflection into dramatic action, the fragmented design of the revised portion of the Finale ensures its perception as the natural outcome of that which has preceded it. Only in the Finale, it is not the traditional Romantic Lied which is "destroyed," but the highly charged lyric utterances associated with Frau Venus' realm.17 At the moment that he invokes Venus ("Zu dir, Frau Venus . . ."), the delirious Tannhäuser regains his vocal powers. But it is Venus' music which he sings; we know it from Act I, scene ii, where Venus implores Tannhäuser to remain with her in the Venusberg ("Geliebter, komm! Sieh dort die Grotte . . .").18 Tannhäuser is allowed two quatrains addressing Venus, to whom he intends to return. The second, beginning "Ach, lass mich . . .," is interrupted by Wolfram's outcries:

T. Zu dir, Frau Venus, kehr ich wieder
in deiner Zauber holde Nacht;
zu deinem Hof steig ich darnieder,
wo nun dein Reiz mir ewig lacht!
(W. Halt ein! Halt ein, Unsel'ger!)
T. Ach, lass mich nicht vergebens suchen!
(W. Halt ein!)
T. Wie leicht fand ich doch einstens dich!
(W. Unsel'ger!)
T. Du hörst dass mir die Menschen fluchen—
nun, süsse Göttin, leite mich!

Still, Tannhäuser's heightened Lied remains fragmentary. This is achieved in part by tonal means, for the move from F-sharp to C-sharp (at measure 215) creates an open structural unit that is never granted closure. It is the orchestra ("Unter dem Theater") which interrupts Tannhäuser as motives from the Act I Bacchanal crowd in, and the recurrence of material from the Overture (mm. 229-271) serves to prepare for the entrance of Frau Venus. Like Tannhäuser, she is allotted two quatrains of welcome (in B Major, while the orchestra presents material first heard in Act I, scene i, Chorus of Sirens, "Naht euch dem Strande!"):

T. Willkommen, ungetreuer Mann!
Schlug dich die Welt in Acht und Bann?
Und findest nirgend du Erbarmen,
suchst Liebe du in meinen Armen:
  (T. Frau Venus, O Erbarmungsreiche!
Zu dir, zu dir, zieht es mich hin!
  W. Zauber der Hölle, weiche, weiche!
Berücke nicht des reinen Sinn!)
V. Nahst du dich wieder meiner Schwelle,
sei dir dein Übermut verzieh'n;
ewig fliesse dir der Freuden Quelle
und nimmer sollst du von mir flieh'n!

But given the deceptive cadence at measure 313 and the pandemonium which ensues, her heightened Lied, like Tannhäuser's, is left incomplete.

Although the portion of the Act III Finale which I have just described must be termed an ensemble, its fragmented structure is projected through its soloistic, "song-destroying" portions. What impresses us is the violence of the episode: the frenzy of the Tannhäuser/Wolfram/Venus confrontation, the abruptness with which both of the super-charged Lieder, Tannhäuser's and Venus', are terminated. And when all of this has been swept aside by Wolfram's pronouncement of Elisabeth's name, all that remains is the communal utterance of the pilgrims: the hymn, a musical symbol no less powerful than the Lieder with which the opera abounds.

Wagner spoke of the relationship between the original Finale and the revised version as that between sketch and working out. In the revision, "not an atom was changed in the intention, but merely that intention was more distinctly realized."19 The intention manifests itself in the points of contact between the original and the revision (see Table 3).




In the original, the melodic material of Tannhäuser's invocation ("Zu deinem Hof . . .," the equivalent of "Zu dir, Frau Venus . . .," in the revision) amounts to little more than a reminiscence. The long dialogue with Wolfram which follows (the duration of which is actually shortened in the revision) is lacking in motivic substance; it remains at the level of accompanied recitative. Lastly, the recurrence of Bacchanal motives from the Overture, which is common to both versions (from "Horch! Horch!" in the original, and "Hörst du nicht jubelnde Klänge?" in the revision) remains a mere reminiscence in the original. In the later version it is the appearance of Venus, and the new music that Wagner wrote for her, that justify the recurrence. Or put a bit differently, the crowding in of Bacchanal motives virtually demands the presence of Venus. Thus, the recurrences in the original version remain interpolations. In the revision, they are integrated into the larger structure, the deliberate fragmentation of which serves as a dramatic continuation of the fragmented structure of the Narrative. And while the revision centers around the person of Venus, her appearance has a real impact on our perception of Tannhäuser. We cannot but be moved by the power of his previous delirium, a delirium strong enough to summon up the Goddess of Love.

I began this essay by asserting that Tannhäuser was unique in Wagner's output. But was this uniqueness accidental? Was it merely a product of Wagner's active involvement in the opera's numerous revivals during his lifetime? I tend to think not. The process of revision, which Wagner initiated immediately after the opera's first performance, seems to be symptomatic of the transformation that he foresaw for his musical language. It is probably not too far-fetched to suggest that the Narrative—Wagner's most advanced bit of musical writing up to that time, and one for which there is little precedent in the earlier operas—set in motion certain problems that were addressed by the early Tannhäuser revisions. The Einleitung revisions, as we have seen, served to place the dissonance of the Narrative's tonal structure in sharper focus, while the Act III Finale revisions served as a continuation of the Narrative's fragmented form. And it is also important to remember that the specific compositional problems generated by the Narrative—the handling of large-scale recurrence and the development of a special technique of integration—are at the very heart of the music drama.

The Narrative has long been recognized as that moment from Wagner's romantic operas which most clearly foreshadows the musical language of the later music dramas. But how, precisely, does the Narrative foreshadow the world of the Ring? While critics have often pointed to the declamatory writing for the voice, and the concentration of motivic substance in the orchestra, these elements provide only a partial answer to the question. Of deeper significance is Wagner's handling of large-scale form, or rather, his creation of a kind of "anti-form," projected through a series of Lied fragments.20 In Tannhäuser, this serves as a symbolic gesture: by doing violence to that quintessentially Romantic genre, the Lied, Wagner takes his leave of conventional Romanticism. In the Ring and beyond, the formal destructiveness is no longer confined to specifically intense moments in the drama; it has become, in varying degrees, all-pervasive.


1"[Ich bin] der Welt noch den Tannhäuser schuldig," Cosima Wagner, Die Tagebücher, II: 1878-1883, ed. M. Gregor-Dellin and D. Mack (Munich & Zürich: Piper, 1977), p. 1098.

2See Carolyn Abbate, "The Parisian 'Vénus' and the 'Paris' Tannhäuser," Journal of the American Musicological Society, XXXVI (1983), 73-123; and Idem., "The 'Parisian' Tannhäuser," Ph.D. diss. (Princeton University, 1983).

3Abbate, "The Parisian 'Vénus,'" p. 78-79.

4"Frau Venus habe ich steif erfunden: einige gute Anlagen, aber kein rechtes Leben. Hier habe ich eine ziemliche Reihe von Versen hinzugedichtet: die Göttin der Wonne wird selbst rührend, und die Qual Tannhäusers wird wirklich, so dass sein Anruf der Maria wie ein tiefer Angstschrei ihm aus der Seele bricht." See W. Golther, ed., Richard Wagner an Mathilde Wesendonk (Leipzig: Duncker, 1904), p. 240-241.

5"Gesang, Recitativ, Wort, Ausruf, Schrei, [und] sardonisches Lachen, . . . ein Drama im grossen Drama bildet." "Franz Liszt, Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg," in Gesammelte Schriften, Bd. III (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1899; German translation of 1852, French original, by L. Ramann), p. 44.

6Peter Conrad, Romantic Opera and Literary Form (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. 2.

7". . . nur die Andeutung von dem enthielt, was in seiner Wirchlichkeit an die Sinne mitgetheilt werden musste." Quoted in Richard Wagners Sämtliche Briefe, Bd. IV, Briefe der Jahre 1851-1852 (Leipzig: VEB Deutscher Verlag für Musik, 1979), p. 113.

8This point is thoroughly discussed in Carl Dahlhaus, Richard Wagner's Music Dramas, tr. by Mary Whittall (London: Cambridge University Press, 1977; orig. publ. Friedrich Verlag, 1971), passim.

9". . . nur dann aber ist ihre Wirkung die richtige, wenn sie auf das innigste mit der Scene, mit der ganzen Darstellung zusammenhängt, d. h. wenn diese Scene und Darstellung so beschaffen ist, dass die Musik aus ihnen vollkommen gerechtfertigt und verständlich erscheint. Wenn Du Dir mir das Zeugniss, dass kein irgendwie auffallender Zug in ihm ausser einem ganz bestimmten Zusammenhange mit irgend etwas steht, was auf der Bühne sich auch an das Auge des Zuhörers mittheilt, sei dieses nun die Scene selbst, oder eine Bewegung, oder ach nur eine Miene." Quoted in Richard Wagner: Sämtliche Briefe, IV, p. 381.

10Printed in Richard Wagner, Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg, Richard Wagners Werke, III, hrsg. von Michael Balling (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1923); New York: Da Capo reprint, 1971), p. xiv-xx.

11Richard Wagner, "On the Performing of Tannhäuser," (1852), in Prose Works, Vol. III, tr. by W.A. Ellis (New York: Broude, 1966; reprint of London, 1894 ed.), p. 183.

12All measure references are reckoned from the first measure of the Narrative.

13Wagner's model may well have been the Act II Finale (the Wolf's Glen Scene) of Weber's Freischütz, in which the VII°7 (at the same pitch level, F-sharp, A, C, E-flat) regulates the tonal plan of the scene as a whole. Weber's use of the sonority is, to be sure, more obsessive than Wagner's, for F-sharp Minor, A Minor, C Minor, and E-flat all serve as tonal areas in the Wolf's Glen Scene. At the same time, the scene hinges principally on the tritone: the F-sharp Minor of its beginning and end, and the C Minor around which its central portion is largely organized.

14Wagner, "On the Performing of Tannhäuser," p. 183.

15My concern here is with the revisions up to Wolfram's cry, "Elisabeth!" The alterations after that point (mainly involving the chorus) are more scenic than they are structural. These are detailed in Dietrich Steinbeck, "Zur Textkritik der Venus-Szenen im Tannhäuser," Die Musikforschung XIX (1966), 412-422, and Richard Wagners Werke, IV, p. vii-viii, where the original Finale is printed on p. xxi-xxxiv.

16See Reinhold Brinkmann, "Tannhäusers Lied," in Das Drama Richard Wagners als musikalische Kunstwerk, ed. Carl Dahlhaus (Regensburg: Bosse Verlag, 1970), p. 202-203; and Hans Mayer, "Tannhäuser und der künstlichen Paradies," Beiträge zur Musikwissenschaft V (1963), 7-8 for a detailed discussion of the manner in which Tannhäuser's Lied bridges the gap between Frau Venus' "artistic Paradise" and the world of traditional Romanticism represented by Wolfram, Bitterolf, etc.

17See fn. 16.

18The tonal association here is of some interest. In the original Tannhäuser (and the 1846 revision), this material occurs, both in the first and last acts, in F-sharp Major. For the Paris production of 1861, Wagner largely rewrote Venus' Act I "aria," "Geliebter, komm," yet retained its opening melody. The Paris revision, however, is in F instead of F-sharp. It is possible that this half-step removal from its appearance in the last act was meant as a tonal parallel to Tannhäuser's Lied, in which the keys of the successive strophes rise by half step: D-flat, D, E-flat, and finally, in the Tournament of Song, E.

19Wagner, "On the Performing of Tannhäuser," p. 185.

20In a paper delivered at the 49th Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society in Louisville, Kentucky (1983), entitled "The Ring Narratives: a Case for the Defense," Carolyn Abbate pointed to the significance of the Lied in Wagner's original conception of Siegfrieds Tod/Götterdämmerung. In the prose draft of the scenario for the scene of Siegfried's murder, Wagner indicated that Siegfried would tell of his past "in a series of Lieder." The strophic layout of the conventional Lied was, of course, considerably blurred in the final version!

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