«Tannhauser,» one of Richard Wagner’s most emblematic works, opens at the Athens Concert Hall on January 24, with additional performances on January 27, 30 and February 1. A San Francisco Opera production, the opera comes to Greece in collaboration with the Greek National Opera, directed by the respected Graham Vick. A former artistic director of the Birmingham Opera Company, the British opera director’s credits include productions at Milan’s La Scala, London’s Covent Garden and the English National Opera as well as New York’s Metropolitan Opera, among others. An impressive, large-scale production, «Tannhauser» marked Vick’s debut at the San Francisco Opera. Participating in the production are more than 50 choristers and an equal number of walk-ons, dancers, a large orchestra and a children’s choir – a true extravaganza lasting four hours. So what exactly is «Tannhauser»? Richard Wagner unveiled the opera for the very first time in Dresden, on October 19, 1845. At the time, Wagner was a 32-year-old composer trying his luck in lyrical music and theater for the fifth time. Among his previous works only «The Flying Dutchman» had received critical acclaim, demonstrating the capabilities of the young and ingenious composer. With «Tannhauser,» however, Wagner kept all the promises he had made with «The Flying Dutchman:» a symphonic dimension aimed at unifying the score and, at the same time, the emergence of a series of subjects destined to become recurring themes in Wagner’s oeuvre – such as the idea of redemption through love. This is why the German ranks among the greatest composers, for he is credited with renewing the opera genre and giving it a higher level of dramatic realism. In doing so, he also developed a kind of opera which would act on audiences like ancient Greek tragedy, as catharsis. It was a difficult path to follow, yet in the end, Wagner found his way, and he did so for the first time through the masterpiece called «Tannhauser.» At the Athens Concert Hall, the set design and costumes have been designed by Paul Brown, while the cast includes leading members of the international opera scene such as John Treleaven as Tannhauser and Angela Marambio as Elisabeth. Also participating in the production are Greek National Opera dancers and the Rosarte children’s choir. The Greek National Opera and Choir will be directed by Philippe Auguin. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333. For more information visit www.nationalopera.gr.