Tannhäuser und der Sängerkrieg auf Wartburg
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  Act 1  
  Scene 1:

At the beginning of the 13th century. Venus is the Goddess of Love. Her realm is situated in the Hörselberg and is populated by bacchants, fauns, satyrs, nymphs and youths who play the game of love. By her side are the three Graces, lovely Goddesses.

The nymphs start a dance, which becomes wilder and wilder. More and more youths take part. The wide cave is impregnated with shrouds of red-pink mist.

After the peak of the dance is reached, the youths wearily retreat in pairs to rest in each other’s arms. Venus and Tannhäuser, who sits at her side, watch the scene.
  Scene 2: Tannhäuser left the court of Landgrave Hermann von Thüringen a long time ago, to live as Venus’ lover in the Hörselberg. After all this time, he longs to see the sun and breathe the open air again. But Venus does not allow him to leave, and calls him a traitor. As Tannhäuser says Maria is his saviour, Venus collapses with a shout and disappears.

Scene 3: Suddenly Tannhäuser finds himself in a beautiful valley. The sky is blue, the sun cheerfully lights the valley. In the background one can see the Wartburg and nearby is a statue of the holy virgin Mary. A young shepherd sings a song as welcome for the month of May and plays a melody on his flute. From the direction of the Wartburg, Tannhäuser hears the singing of older Pilgrims, who are on a pilgrimage to Rome to do penitence for their sins. Deeply moved he sinks to his knees in prayer.

Scene 4: Landgrave Hermann von Thüringen with his hunting party, per chance runs into Tannhäuser, who has kneeled down in prayer. Wolfram von Eschenbach recognises him first; it is Tannhäuser, who once abandoned their society in proud arrogance. They ask Tannhäuser to rejoin their circle. Tannhäuser reconciles with his old friends, but wants to journey alone. They try to persuade him to remain with them, it is only when Wolfram mentions the name of Elisabeth that Tannhäuser gives in. Elisabeth, the niece of the Landgrave, is in love with Tannhäuser and desires to see him. Tannhäuser praises the beautiful spring day, which brings him so much happiness. In the valley all hunters meet, who in reply to the Landgrave’s horncall, loudly blow their horns.
Der Wartburg.
  Act 2

Scene 1:

The Hall of Singers in the Wartburg. Elisabeth enters the hall and happily awaits the arrival of Tannhäuser.
  Scene 2: Wolfram accompanies Tannhäuser to Elisabeth, who kneels down for her. Elisabeth tells of her despair, when Tannhäuser left the Wartburg and of her new found happiness now he has come back. Together they praise the wonder that has brought them together again. Wolfram observes them from a distance, and notices to his disappointment Elisabeth still loves Tannhäuser. Tannhäuser walks up to Wolfram and embraces him warmly, together they leave the Hall of Singers.

Scene 3: The Landgrave comes into the Hall and sees with gladness, that after a long time Elisabeth has found her way to the Hall of Singers, and will be present at the coming Songcontest.

Scene 4: The nobility and knights who arrive to attend the Songfestival are warmly greeted by the Landgrave and his niece Elisabeth. When everyone is seated, the minstrels come forward and bow politely to all present. The Landgrave announces the Songcontest, he asks the minstrels to fathom 'the essence of love'. The winner may determine his price, which will be given by Elisabeth. Wolfram von Eschenbach starts the contest. His song is an example of virtuous love, but the physical element is missing. The audience applauds his view. Tannhäuser can no longer control himself and passionately sings his version of the 'essence of love'. This sensual version bewilders the audience and Biterolf draws his sword in great indignation. Tannhäuser calls Biterolf a grim wolf, who knows not the meaning of love. Tannhäuser however has been with the goddess of love, Venus! After this outburst, the other knights follow Biterolf’s example; they draw their swords and want to kill Tannhäuser. Without fear for her own life, Elisabeth puts herself between the swords and Tannhäuser, and proclaims that only God may judge him. For him too, the Saviour died on the cross. The Landgrave bans Tannhäuser from his lands, and indicates a way to his possible salvation; a pilgrimage to Rome. Tannhäuser kneels down at Elisabeth’s feet, who saved his life, and kisses the hem of her robe. Then, in great agitation, he stands up and joins the long procession of pilgrims, who pass through the valley, on their journey to Rome. Elisabeth stays behind and prays for Tannhäuser’s salvation.
  Act 3

Scene 1: Autumn has come. Wolfram approaches the valley where Elisabeth prays in front of the statue of the holy virgin Mary, and realises the pilgrims from Rome will soon return. In the distance he already hears the pilgrims singing.
  Elisabeth, who expectantly awaits Tannhäuser, rises from her prayer and looks for him among the pilgrims. The procession draws past, but no Tannhäuser. Again she turns to the holy virgin Mary, and prays to receive her soul in heaven. There she will beg for mercy for Tannhäuser's sin. When she opens her eyes, she sees Wolfram, who approaches her. When he wants to speak to her, she indicates that he must be silent. In heaven a high office awaits her. In the falling dusk, she slowly walks up to the Wartburg.
  Scene 2: Wolfram stays behind. After Elisabeth has disappeared from sight, he gets his harp and sings an ode to the evening star. He asks the evening star to greet Elisabeth, when she ascends to heaven to become an angel of God.

Scene 3: Night has fallen. Dressed in a torn habit, a weary pilgrim enters the starlit valley; it is Tannhäuser. He wonders who plays such sad harpmusic. Wolfram recognises Tannhäuser and with compassion asks if he has been to Rome. Tannhäuser tells about his bitter pilgrimage, after a journey full of deprivations he reached Rome. He saw the pope and asked for absolution. When the pope heard of his stay with Venus, he was condemned till eternity. Just as the staff of the pope would never blossom, Tannhäuser would never find salvation. Now he only has Venus to go to.

Venus and her realm slowly materialise through a veil of rose mist. She invites the perfidious Tannhäuser to return to her kingdom. Tannhäuser wants to enter her realm, but is held back by Wolfram. As Tannhäuser wants to tear himself loose, Wolfram tells him an angel prays for his soul; Elisabeth. At hearing her name, Tannhäuser freezes. From the valley, they hear a song that mourns the passing away of Elisabeth. Wolfram says to Tannhäuser that Elisabeth's prayers have been heard, so he may be redeemed. Venus has lost Tannhäuser and disappears.
At dawn, a mourning procession becomes visible. They carry an open coffin with the dead body of Elisabeth. Older pilgrims walk in front, the coffin is carried by nobles and escorted by the Landgrave, earls, and other nobles. Wolfram gives a sign and the coffin is placed on the ground. Tannhäuser kneels down and asks Elisabeth to pray for him in heaven, upon which he dies.

Younger pilgrims march into the valley. They carry the papal staff, which miraculously has blossomed. 'Hail, the wonder of Grace!'. God truly is merciful and high above all. Hallelujah!
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