Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde - Deutsche Oper Berin

Performance 5th June

Tristan und Isolde is a piece that changed the course of music history and marks a transition that ultimately led to Schönberg and the second Viennese school. Also Tristan has a strange effect on people (certainly not everyone, but many people). It leads to a state of ecstacy, yeah a real jag or "Wagnerrausch" in German. Especially the second act is simply enchanting and is full of mystic sounds and the most yearning music.
The production of Graham Vick seems quite strange in the beginning, but has quite interesting ideas and ultimately does a pretty good job. The stage (Paul Brown) looks like some sort of hotel room/lobby with great windows, a sofa and elegant interior. The whole business look of the costumes (also Paul Brown) is quite sober, but doesn't really bother. I especially liked the idea that Tristan and Isolde are old people in the finale act (playing in some sort of retirement home).
Donald Runnicles created a great atmosphere and showed a very clear but also misterious interpretation of the score. The prelude started out of nothing and gave me goosebumps all over my body. The Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin followed his lead very well and gave an astonishing performance. Especially the range of colors in the second act was impressive. The Chor der Deutschen Oper seemed a bit uncoordinated at certain moments but they gave a solid performance overall.
In the smaller roles we heard Seth Carico (Steuermann), Attilio Glaser (Stimme eines jungen Steuermanns) and Peter Maus (Hirt). Seth Carico probably made female hearts beat higher when he appeared for his phrase dressed with nothing than a towel and some shaving foam. However, all three of them gave solid performances during their short appearances.
Jörg Schörner sang the role of Melot with a tenor voice that sounded as if it could definitely handel bigger Wagner roles than that. One of my personal highlights was Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Brangäne. Her slim, but still powerful mezzo voice suited the role perfectly and her performance was simply brilliant. For sure the best Brangäne I have heard live so far!
Also Ryan McKinney as Kurwenal gave a great performance. Both, his acting and singing, were wonderful and his dark sonorous baritone voice definitely would make a great Wotan. He was not only a handsome Kurwenal, but also a very skillful actor and sang his part marvelously, so it was a pleasure to be there to hear him in this role.
As King Marke we heard Albert Pesendorfer who gave a very touching performance. He conveyed the whole drama and the despair of his character really well. His voice is perfect for these Wagner bass roles and his performance was totally satisfying.
Stephen Gould mastered the role of Tristan without any problems. Even though he sounded a bit strained during some top notes he convinced with great stamina and power until the very end. Especially the third act was spectacular with his dramatic outbreaks which he pulled off very well. He seemed to have arranged his ressources really appropriately. He surely is one of the leading Tristans and Wagner tenor in general.
Another leading Wagner singer was performing the role of Isolde. Nina Stemme convinces with the sheer power of her steely soprano which sounds very controlled. Not only can she sing loudly, she is also still able to keep the volume down and sing calmly and intimately. Her high notes are simply glorious and she has everything that this role is calling for.
After the performance the audience went crazy with bravo shouts that almost brought down the house. Totally earned the artists enjoyed the huge exaltation. Alltogether it was a magic evening and a highly recommendable performance that earns 9 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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