TannhäuserState Opera Prague, 11/01/2014
The new production of Wagner's Tannhäuser surpassed all expectations. The premiere performance was rewarded with a thunderous and prolonged standing ovation, which was not always the case in recent times.
Putting on such a well-staged musical work has created a landmark, with which the Prague State Opera has overcome the period of uncertainty with the promise of a new era, in which the artistic and social prestige of this institution can again achieve international importance.
Stanislav Vanek, Deník
The decision of the new management to call on Hilary Griffiths has emerged as a major step in the right direction. The British conductor has known the situation at the State Opera since 1992 firsthand - his Salome , Florentine Tragedy, Zwerg , Erwartung , Tiefland or Death in Venice were major events, even contemporary operatic milestones with us.
This time he managed to inspire the Orchestra and State Opera Chorus and soloists to a level of performance long unheard in this theatre.
The overture displayed a well thought out structure with large dynamic contrasts in the drama of the struggle between physical lust and spiritual virtue.
And four hours of music thanks to Griffiths’ energy swept us away with beautiful phrasing and clearly shaped episodes, whether with smaller instrumental groups or with the whole orchestra, in sophisticated nuances from gentle and silky sound combinations up to a vast forte, which despite its intensity never once during the whole evening covered the singers.
A final sound effect when the female chorus sang from the 3rd balcony, linking at the very end with the men on the stage, filled the State Opera with a musical catharsis of supreme bliss.
Helena Havlíková, Lidové noviny
British conductor Hilary Griffiths is no stranger to the Prague State Opera, having led the orchestra in over two hundred performances.
Overall Griffiths favoured relatively brisk tempos and fine architectural balance, with an overwhelming build in the finale of Act 2.
His interpretation was characterized by pointed dynamic contrasts and expressive nuances.
Let's start with the positive: the level of musical staging the premiere was not a coincidence. Conductor Hilary Griffiths inspired the orchestra to fulfil all the requirements of Wagner's score [...]
Griffiths proved that the orchestra of the State Opera can achieve the highest levels of performance - it only needs to be woken from its lethargy (and also the anxiety over its fate) and to be led by a strong, respected personality.