miércoles, 5 de septiembre de 2018

Video review: Tristan und Isolde from the 2015 Bayreuth Festival

The following video in my Bayreuth list was this 2015 production of Tristan und Isolde, staged by Katharina Wagner, great-daughter of the composer.

After the big scandal of her Meistersinger production in 2007, Mrs. Wagner presents a staging in which darkness, opression and austerity are predomining in the scene. Isolde will marry to Marke, portrayed here as a sadistic abusive husband, presumably a dictator in his kingdom. His opressive influence will mark tragically the destiny of the main four characters. Tristan is not here an hero, but a victim of Marke.

The curtain rises and shows Act 1 with a big platform of labyrinth of stairs in which the characters move, trying to reach each others. At the beggining, they are sit in different points of the platform, and then they will interact. They don't drink the love drink, but they will pour it in their hands, as the DVD photo is showing. Act 2 set us to the reign of terror set by Marke, with him and his court watching in the high level and torturing Isolde and Brangäne with lights, much to his amusement. The same will be done with Tristan and Kurwenal. One of the best moments comes with the Love Duet: Isolde and Tristan will look to the bottom of the scenary where there will be projected an image of the shades of a man and a woman coming close and then walking away. After Brangäne's warning aria, a cage is seen, where the lovers enter and leave, and finally seal their love with their blood.  Then, Marke and his henchmen come to interrogate Tristan and Isolde.

Act 3 has also one of the great moments. In a dark ambient, the tiny Tristan's court is seated on circle, like in a vigil for their dying lord. Tristan has visions of Isolde, but when he reaches them, the visions vanish, revealing their mirage nature. One of the most scariest visions is the last one, when he takes the hand of the ghost of his beloved mistress, its head starts bleeding before disappearing. The visions appear in a beautiful blue triangle. And before Tristan dies, the three visions appears in within the triangles on scene. After his death, the tragedy of the killing of Melot and Kurwenal, Isolde sings her Liebestod taking Tristan's hand while he is lying in a hospital bed. At the end, Marke forces Isolde to go with him, dissapearing in the darkness, while Brangäne is left alone with the death bodies as the curtain falls. Isolde will have to face a future of abuses by her evil husband, but she doesn't care, because her mind is now with her Tristan.

Christian Thielemann gives again an accomplishment conduction of the orchestra, achieving splendid versions of the preludes, and with an unforgettable Act 2. The chorus led by Eberhard Friedrich were quite well in their brief intervention.

Evelyn Herlitzius is the start of this cast. She is skilled in acting temperament, a passionate way of singing and a big voice. She probably isn't the ideal Isolde but her style is adequate for this drama and that passion is seen in her singing, despite some troubles in high notes. A great performance.

Stephen Gould is at the same accomplished level as Herlitzius. In this moment (2015) his voice resist the challenging score and his voice sounds beautiful and heroical.

Christa Mayer is a good Brangäne, with an attractive lower register. Iain Paterson sings Kurwenal decently, but not as expected, however he acts very well. Georg Zeppenfeld as Marke is one of the great performances of the evening, with his beautiful bass voice and his amazing acting as the evil husband according to Mrs. Wagner's conception.

Raimund Nolte has been a revelation as Melot, portraying the servilism of the character, and with a nice voice. Tansel Akzeybek sang a double character: the young sailor in Act 1 and the shepherd in Act 3, being the latter the role most adequate to his voice. Kay Stiefermann has an appealing presence, suitable for the steersman, and well sang.

The performance became a success, thanks to an amazing cast and conductor, and the staging work has been satisfactory, with moments of beauty.

My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non English native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
Most of the photographs are from the press and belong to its authors. My use of them is only cultural.

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