Sunday, 12 July 2015

Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde - Bayerische Staatsoper, Münchner Opernfestspiele (Nationaltheater)

Performance 08th July

I had the immense pleasure and honor to be ablt to attend the first of the two last performances of Tristan und Isolde in Munich with the legendary Isolde of the last two centuries: Waltraud Meier!
But first to the production generally, which already is famous itself. Peter Konwitschny created a production that shows the emotions and intellectual content of this opus magnum appropriately. Every single move is supporting the dramatic plot and caused a very impressive impact. Supporting this great direction was the staging and the costumes of Johannes Leiacker, which seemed so abstract and just not from this world, but in a very positive way. The colorful staging and costumes created an almost magic atmosphere.
Same was valid for the music. Philippe Jordan's interpretation was so gentle and smooth, especially during the second act. He carried the singers over a most delicate carpet of sound and elicited the most marvelous virtuosity from the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, which was able to follow every command perfectly.
In the smaller roles we heard Kevin Conners as Ein Hirt, Christian Rieger as Ein Steuermann and Dean Power as Ein junger Seemann. All three of them mastered their roles very well and gave a fine performance. Francesco Petrozzi sang a fine Melot and gave a very appropriate portrayal of this quite unpleasant role.
As Brangäne Michelle Breedt jumped in for Elisabeth Kulman who cancelled her participation. Breedt did not really reach my expectations and seemed not to be the perfect choice for this role. She did not have enough power to be heard over the orchestra most of the time. She surely has a beautiful voice, but is more of a lyric mezzo soprano and Brangäne does call for much dramatic skills.
Someone who definitely has those skills is René Pape who sang König Marke with his powerful profound bass. His voice has the perfect noble and solemn timbre for this role. The finale of the second act was just magnificent and impressed me very much. Pape captured all the despair and disappointment of his role so perfectly that it was just marvelous!
Alan Held gave a solid performance as Kurwenal and especially during the final act he managed to show great acting skills and helped to make it very diverting (as diverting as Tristan 3rd act can possibly be).
Robert Dean Smith, who jumped in for the ill Peter Seiffert (I would have loved to hear Seiffert in this role), also gave a fine performance and showed that he is definitely capable of performing the role without major issues. I personally do not like the nasal timbre of his voice, but his overall performance was really fine. Especially during the third act he still seemed to have enough reserves to impress the audience with his power.
But now to the reason why I came to see the performance: Waltraud Meier's Isolde. Since she started to sing this role there has been the discussion if a mezzo can sing an appropriate Isolde and I think noone else showed better that it is definitely possible. Even more, because for me she is (or was) the Isolde of our times. Even though she might not have the very top notes anymore noone cares because everything else is just sublime and incredibly intensive. Her whole interpretation of the role is just legendary and especially the second act seemed just not from this world. Every single moment she was on stage she was capturing the attention of the audience.
In the very end during her first solo curtain call the whole auditorium seemed to explode. I have never heard such applause before and it seemed she did not expect it herself. The audience went mad and it took nearly half an hour until the applause finally ended. She even still had to get on the stage when the orchestra was already gone.
So finally I can just say that it was an incredible honor that I have been able to attend one of her final performances. I would give full 10 stars to Meier's Isolde but due to the fact that I have to assess the whole performance I would give it 9 stars.
And now I can just say: Thank you, Waltraud Meier, for the experience of such enormous artistry and an Isolde I will never forget!!!

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