Thursday, March 8, 2007

A Quick and (Very) Dirty Synopsis of Tannhaeuser

When the opera begins, Tannhäuser is moping around Venus’s Mountain of Earthly Delights, plumb wore out from all the tail he’s been getting. He decides to leave Venus because he misses the sound of church bells, which leads me to believe that Venus wasn't providing much backdoor action. They fight, Tannhäuser says he has a hard-on for Jesus now (a spiritual hard-on), and Venus disappears as quickly as a popped blow-up doll, which she might as well be. His old friends find him and, after much man-hugging, they convince him to come back to the castle. It turns that that though he Clay Aikened at the last song competition, the saintly Elisabeth still fell for him.

In Act II, Elisabeth, upon hearing that Tannhäuser’s back in town, decides to be the prize at the next singing competition. Uh, that’s some self-respect right there. By the way, Elisabeth is another of those glittery hoo-ha characters (though hers is a metaphysical hoo-ha, since only naughty women have real ones); she’s perfectly perfect in every way. Anyway, it’s theme night at the Wartburg Idol singing contest, so all the knights have to sing about “love’s awakening”. It’s called “morning wood”, fellas. Elizabeth, who is Paula Abdul to her uncle the Landgrave’s Simon Cowell, says that she will grant the victor one wish. Wolfram, the Sanch to Tannhäuser’s Dr. Rick Dagless, M.D., gets up and sings what amounts to a sappier version of “One Track Lover”. Tannhäuser is like, “Dude, I bet you’ve never even seen a vagina”. All the other knights support Wolfram, which pisses Tannhäuser off, and the whole thing degenerates into a medieval episode of Yo Mama, with the Landgrave in the role of Wilmer Valderrama, only with testosterone. Tannhäuser finally says “You pansies need to get some and fast. You should go to Venusberg—they’ve got some quality ‘tang there.” Everyone at the contest points and shrieks at Tannhäuser like in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, because apparently the worst possible thing you can do is have lots of sex. Elisabeth defends Tannhäuser, even though the revelation that he’s gotten some in the past has broken her heart. Since Tannhäuser seems genuinely sorry for liking sex, the Landgrave lets him go off to Rome as a pilgrim.

By Act III, Elisabeth has gone kind of crazy from not hearing from Tannhäuser. When he doesn’t return with the rest of the pilgrims, she wanders off to die. Lady, have you ever heard of traffic? Give him some time. Tannhäuser shows up a few minutes later and tells Wolfram all about how the Pope said that his staff would grow leaves before Tannhäuser would be absolved of the sin of making the beast with two backs. Probably if he’d actually made it with a real beast, he’d have been absolved by now, but you know, human vaginas are bad, mmmkay? Also, Pope? I don’t want to hear about your staff and what it sprouts. Since nothing can fully towel the juices of Venus off Tannhäuser’s genitals, he decides to head back to Venusberg. Venus appears to take him back (or “bids him welcome back to her cavern” hehehe, “cavern”). Just then, Wolfram notices an oh-so-conveniently placed funeral procession. It’s Elisabeth’s, which means that the Landgrave really just threw it together at the last minute. The wake will probably just have supermarket cold-cut platters. Weak. Tannhäuser collapses on Elisabeth’s body and begs her to pray for him. He croaks. Yes, folks, dying is better than getting off. Just then, some people come in to say that the “staff” that the pope “erected” has “sprouted”, which proves that Tannhäuser has been saved by the “redemptive power of love” or whatever conductor James Conlon verbally diarrheaed about in the pre-opera talk. The moral of the story? The worst thing you can do is have lots of sex. It’s worse than stealing, murder, and, um, plagiarism.

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