Staging is now one of the most popular attractions in the Opera Houses.
This is something new. In the past, there have been periods where the scenography was also very important, like in the great Baroque shows, or in French Grand Opéra, but the story was invariably set in the manner described by the libretto, and with the events unaltered.
Today, and for the last few decades, "Regie theater" has changed this landscape, and the rules of the game allow for the staging to take place in different periods than the libretto, or even to develop a parallel storyline.
What will you do if you were offered the opportunity to decide on the staging of the opera of your choice?.
For instance, this is what I would do with Tannhäuser:
Japan, early 17th century
Tannhäuser, a samurai in the service of the daimyo Wartburg, is living since several months into a pleasure quarter, enjoying the favours of the incredibly beautiful and skilled tayū Venus. Tannhäuser feels split between the duties of his Christian faith, and the erotic attractions of the quarter. Finally, he asks Venus's permission and depart for Wartburg. In the road, he find other samurais, that are grouping for a poetry tournament that will take place in the castle of the daimyo, the prize being a tea bowl manufactured by Honami Kōetsu.
The daimyo's son, Elisabeth, is in love with Tannhäuser. During the tournament, while the samurai Wolfram, in agreement with the Christian doctrine embraced by his liege, declares that Love should be a pure spring, that will join husband and wife spiritually, Tannhäuser maintains that love is only a pleasure for the senses. This amounts to a challenge for the rest of samurais, that menace to impale Tannhäuser in their swords, but the intervention of Elisabeth rescues him from this danger. However, Tannhäuser must go on a pilgrimage to Nagasaki, and receive absolution in the biggest cathedral of Japan.
Elisabeth, escorted by Wolfram, that secretly is in love with her, is waiting for Tannhäuser's return. However, when Wolfram and Tannhäuser meet, we understand the rogue samurai has not being pardoned, and he is prepared to return to Venus's pleasure quarter. Just then, the sad news of Elisabeth's death reach Tannhäuser, that feels his soul overwhelmed with sorrow and remorse, and finally prepares himself to redeem his sins.
I do believe in the possibility of using a temporal and/or space displacement to underline some of the deeper meanings of an opera. However, I think that the basic events, including the original ending, of the opera must be preserved.
Of course, you can agree with my opinion, or use a totally different approach. Also, you can present a few lines (even fewer than my own) to share with us your staging, or go for a few pages, no problem.
How will you stage the opera of your choice?