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Tannhäuser, by Richard Wagner

Los Angeles Opera / Los Angeles / Music

According to the bio on his website, “The profile of American tenor Issachah Savage was dramatically raised when he swept the boards at Seattle’s International Wagner Competition in 2014, taking First Prize, Audience Prize and Orchestra Favorite award.” In the meantime, he’s been racking up important credits (Radamès in a Houston Aida, Verdi’s Otello in Guadalajara, Bacchus in a Seattle Ariadne auf Naxos, Siegmund in a Toronto Walküre), but his role debut as Tannhäuser could catapult him to a whole new level. The troubadour torn between fleshly and spiritual love has notoriously challenging music to sing and lots of it. What’s more, tenderness and pathos ultimately count here as much as the indispensable tortured heroics. Remarkably, Savage commands both. Voices so big and so sweet come along once in a blue moon. Louisa Muller directs the company’s tried-and-true production by Ian Judge. James Conlon, a full-service maestro and master Wagnerian, conducts. —M.G.

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