|Key: Sacred Love's clothed, Profane Love's ready for action|
Tannhäuser dallies with Venus (voluptuous, thus profane love) and, for no good reason, chooses to return home. In a singing competition T boasts about the rumpy-pumpy he's been enjoying, shocking the community and his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth (devout, therefore sacred love) who sort of forgives him. To redeem himself T pilgrims to Rome to be absolved by the Pope. Returning home T meets Wolfram, a mate before he became a metal (aka tungsten), and says he mentioned his penances to the Pope, adding he still has profane yearnings. Politely the Pope tells T to defecate in his hat. Elisabeth sort of dies and by dying absolves T. T then dies and the opera ends with a stunning chorus of:
The grace of God is granted to the penitent;
now he enters into the bliss of heaven.
It's far better than the plot suggests, much of the music is quite, quite beautiful, and there's genuine drama. But what about its premise?
Profane love we know about, teenagers get up to it too early in life. Sacred love, it seems, only happens above the waistline and was the going thing in Tannhäuser’s home town near Wartburg Castle, Germany. Amazingly the town didn't depopulate and die in the Middle Ages, but this may happen shortly, given its most important industry is car-making. That's German car-making.
Still about cars and even more amazing, Wartburg Castle gave its name to a terrible two-stroke car made in what used to be East Germany. Not a car to generate any love – sacred or profane – in me. Stay with Tone Deaf, it’s educational but in a populist way.