Tristan und Isolde, Love and betrayal at La Fenice
Tristan und Isolde
Review by Henning Høholt
(Tristan and Isolde)
action in three acts,
libretto and music of Richard Wagner ‘s novel in verse Tristan of Gottfried von Strassburg
VENICE: Paul Curran presented a masterpiece in his directing of Tristan und Isolde in Venice
. It became especially clear by his forming of the last act by building up the deathscene of Tristan, masterly sung by Ian Storey
. He is secure and hefty, soaring and untiring. Together with his great Kurwenal Richard Paul Fink, Curran makes us believe that these are people crying out from the depths of their souls, with not a gesture wasted or a line uninterpreted. Tristan is all about the relationship between the main characters, and here the production scores highly. Furthermore, working with such a beautiful voice as Storey´s with so many colours must be fantastic for a director. With two singers who understood and managed to play the long dramatic scene, where Tristan are dying and Tristan and Kurwenal are waiting for Isoldes arrival. It is a directing masterpiece. However, it was a mostly a British affair. But the story is acted out in Britain, so why not? – However, the text is in German.
The story takes place in the Dark Ages and the conflict between Ireland and a divided England after the fall of the Roman Empire. The two young lovers Tristan and Isolde do not belong to the same tribe.
Isolde was brilliantly performed by Brigitte Pinter, powerful, intense, tragic, beautiful, she is a driving force with a fascinating interpretation. However, it seemed to me, that she was a bit tired when it came to Isolde´s Liebestod. – It´s a long, tough role for the soprano. It’s a marathon, but Isolde still has to be focused at the end, when she has to produce her best singing of the evening.
The big hit in the production was Brangaene – Tuija Knihtila. Her voice was impressive, and presented a fascinating interpretation, utterly beautiful. If she continues like this, she will have a gloriouse future worldwide. This was high class. – The opera audience in Oslo can look forward to her guest appearance as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana
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. First night 2nd March 2013 in Oslo.
The production depends on good singers and of a good directing. We had both. In addition to the already mentioned singers we enjoyed as Koenig Marke – Attila Jun. Furthermore the Voice of the young sailor was beautifully sung by Gian Luca Pasolin.
The Orchestra de La Fenice topped it all with its wonderful playing. It is lush and ecstatic with glorious solo work. I enjoyed especially the solo viola, the English horn, oboe and clarinet, and the first violin solo. These are but a few of the inspired soloists, plus a score that the conductor Myung-Whun Chung is totally on top of. There was something brand-new on the music stands: Performance material from Schott based on the critical Richard Wagner edition, enabling the orchestra to perform the work more authentically than ever before. Scott Music will tell you more about their outstanding work at: http://www.schott-music.com/news/archive/show,8105.html
Delicious lighting by David Jacque and a good scenography by Robert Innes Hopkins, In the first act we understand that we are onboard a ship. I only missed the feeling of water. Fine also in the second act in the garden of the castle of King Marke in Cornwall, and in and third act at Tristans castle in Brittany. Hopkins is also responsible for the costumes. In my opinion, when the Irish princess Isolde is to be married to King Marke in Cornwall, I would expect that she had brought with her a more interesting wardrobe, than this boring green long dress with two different shades of long coats to wear. Hopkins could have used his imagination to make it a bit more “royal”.
The main characters and performers in Venice: Tristan – Ian Storey. König Marke – Attila Jun
. Isolde – Brigitte Pinter. Kurwenal – Richard Paul Fink. Melot – Marcello Nardis. Brangaene – Tuija Knihtila. A shepherd – Mirko Guadagnini. Voice of the young sailor – Gian Luca Pasolini. A pilot – Armando Gabbamaster.
Conductor Myung-Whun Chung. director Paul Curran, set and costume designer Robert Innes Hopkins. Lighting Designer David Jacques. Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro La Fenice. Chorus Master Claudio Marino Moretti.
Performed in the original German with Italian subtitles. Fondazione Teatro La Fenice new layout in the bicentenary of the birth of Richard Wagner with the support the Friendassociation of Teatro La Fenice .
Tristan and Isolde was first time premiered in Munich in Bavaria, Königliches Hof- und National Theater, June 10, 1865.
Please enjoy other Tristan and Isolde reviews in Kulturkompasset at:
Claus Drecker: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2012/03/det-triste-ved-isolde/
Waltraud Meyer and Daniel Harding: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2009/11/waltraud-meier-daniel-harding-with-wagner/
In Copenhagen: http://www.kulturkompasset.com/2010/11/wagner-stjerner-i-tristan-og-isolde-i-k%C3%B8benhavn/
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It is possible to enjoy Ian Storey as Tristan on a DVD:
Tristan und Isolde (DVD): Patrice Chéreau (2007), Daniel Barenboim, Waltraud Meier, Ian Storey
Conductor: Daniel Barenboim
Tristan: Ian Storey
Isolde: Waltraud Meier
King Marke: Matti Salminen
Brangäne: Michelle DeYoung
Kurwenal: Gerd Grochowski
Melot: Will Hartmann
Ein Hirt: Ryland Davies
Ein Steuermann: Ernesto Panariello
Ein junger Seemann: Alfredo Nigro
Set design: Richard Peduzzi
Costume design: Moidele Bickel
Chorus master: Bruno Casoni
Filmed live at Teatro alla Scala, 7 December, 2007.
This DVD release comes on 3 DVDs