Transported by Tannhäuser

Sophie Koch as Venus in Wagner’s “Tannhäuser” at L’Opera National de Paris (2011)

On the way back down from dropping someone off at the Salt Lake Airport today, I was listening to KBYU-FM.  Perfect timing:  I was able to hear the entirety of one of my favorite pieces of music, the Overture from Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser.

It was a recording of Claudio Abbado conducting the Berlin Philharmonic.

I turned the volume up to the max and sang (wordlessly) along with it almost all the way from Salt Lake City to Orem.  I’m sure, if anybody chanced to look over, that I must have looked a bit comical.

I mentioned, in a column the other day, that I consider myself a religious humanist.  This music expresses something akin to my religious philosophy — and, yes, I know something of the problematic character of Wagner’s character and of his Christianity, and I’m aware that my theology isn’t entirely compatible with that of the opera’s narrative — with its expressions of both reverent awe and exaltation.  Marvelous music.

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