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HomeOpera“Meticulously formed, fantastically tinted and propulsive” « parterre field

“Meticulously formed, fantastically tinted and propulsive” « parterre field


The Seattle Opera’s new manufacturing of Tristan und Isolde marks an eventful event for the Pacific Northwest’s nice Wagner-loving opera firm.

First, this worldwide collaboration between Christina Scheppelman and Argentine director Marcelo Lombardero not solely presents the home’s fourth exploration of this paean to romantic love, it is usually the primary Wagnerian opera mounted by the corporate for the reason that COVID-19 pandemic, and is arguably its most bold staging of those sprawling works since its celebrated 2013 Ring Cycle.

Most notably, it represents a return to type for a home that casts an indelible imprint on the historical past of Wagner efficiency in North America.

Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde obtained its first manufacturing in Seattle in 1981, in a homegrown staging created by native musical luminaries Henry Holt and Lincoln Clark whereas starring Johanna Meier and Edward Sooter because the ill-fated lovers.

The corporate wouldn’t revisit the work till nearly 20 years later, this time below Speight Jenkins’ and Francesca Zambello’s imaginative and prescient that memorably united Ben Heppner and Jane Eaglen of their position debuts. The third in 2010—a Peter Kazaras creation that met midway between conventional photorealism and coloristic abstractions—marked the ultimate Tristan from the corporate’s artistically wealthy Speight Jenkins period.

In Seattle’s newest realization of Tristan, Lombardero and his artistic crew plant the singers in a naked area augmented with front-and-back digital actuality projections. Other than important props required for advancing the plot, the better a part of the narrative’s bodily components are depicted utilizing richly illustrated, Tolkien-esque cartoons (impressed by the South American artists Alberto Breccia and Hugo Pratt) intermixed with sensible video projections of nature, the ocean and area.

Though the stage aesthetic and Luciana Gutman’s opulent costumes are typical, the set’s minimalism theoretically supplies a framework for seasoned interpreters to deal with the libretto’s psychological nuances.

This idea’s execution in observe is one other matter, and Lombardero’s therapy was rendered uneven by the absence of a constant dramaturgical imaginative and prescient that almost all noticeably affected the belief of Isolde’s character.

Productions that set static librettos like Tristan amid bodily minimalism aren’t new. As an illustration, Wieland Wagner’s legendary Neo-Bayreuth manufacturing from the Nineteen Sixties and Invoice Viola’s compelling Tristan Mission have been masterclasses in exacting compelling dramatic interpretations within the sparest of settings.

Lombardero’s interesting projections definitely succeeded in seamlessly shifting between the narrative locales inside Tristan’s ship, Cornwall, and Kareol. Throughout the mesmerizing love duet, the transformation of Marke’s fort in Cornwall into an ethereal depiction of space-time fantastically evokes the metaphysical points of Wagner’s textual content.

But, despite these lovingly constructed particulars, Wagner’s Tristan must relaxation on the dramatic acumen of its musical interpreters. On opening evening, whereas the performances from Stefan Vinke’s Tristan and Ryan McKinny’s Kurwenal stand out, the opposite principals’ interpretations at instances lacked the previous artists’ specificity of their characters’ musical preparation.

Finally, this manufacturing’s imbalances appeared to stem from an expertise tailor-made extra in the direction of enhancing the visuals quite than unifying the vocalists in the direction of an exacting interpretive imaginative and prescient.

These points manifested most clearly within the Isolde-centered scenes of Act 1, the place the princess’s advanced and wide-ranging dramatic palette have been undermined by Mary Elizabeth Williams’ disjointed vocal registers and her unfamiliarity with Wagner’s idiom.

One other essential second that diminished the narrative’s impression got here after the lovers imbibed the potion—particularly in that turbulent orchestral interlude between Isolde’s “Verräter! Ich trink’ sie dir!” and the lovers’ first tender utterances of one another’s names. Quite than conveying the rating’s undercurrent of harmful, unbridled ardour, a tepid recognition scene didn’t construct up in the direction of the devastating climax that closed the primary act.

Gratefully, the efficiency’s arc improved within the latter elements—made so by Tristan’s better presence within the narrative. A lot as in his successful portrayal of Siegfried, Stefan Vinke brings to Tristan an indefatigable heldentenor of sturdy, muscular brilliance and a bodily depth that allowed him to fearlessly traverse this advanced character’s broad emotional compass.

Whereas his midrange may sound occluded throughout introspective moments, his voice opened up and excelled as the road rose increased, inhabiting his impassioned and delirious traces in Acts 2 and three with a fullness and abandon that eludes most artists on this repertory. Certainly, Vinke’s musical items reworked the opera’s third act into its musical and dramatic apex, right here portrayed as one thing akin to a mad scene for heldentenor.

McKinny accompanied Vinke’s Tristan with a gripping Kurwenal that provided lyricism and sensitivity whereas comforting his deteriorating grasp.  Amber Wagner, in her first operatic look since her change of administration, delivered to the a part of Brangäne a voice of outstanding amplitude, safety, and luster.

Ms. Wagner’s impactful, fantastically sculpted phrases enveloped one in a wall of tone that implies potential for enterprise the composer’s most difficult heroines.  One hopes that this engagement will characterize the primary of many that may proceed to construct Ms. Wagner’s musical and dramatic talents on this repertory.

As Marke, Morris Robinson unfurled a bass of velvety richness, imbuing the character’s anguished scene in Act 2 with magnificence and pathos.  Lastly, one should commend the Seattle-based tenor Andrew Stenson for his fantastically and lyrically sung sailor and shepherd.

Jordan D’Souza directed the Seattle Symphony in a meticulously formed, fantastically tinted and propulsive studying of Wagner’s Tristan. For a younger conductor’s first tackle this cornerstone of operatic historical past, d’Souza impressively drew myriad particulars and shade from the rating and contributed to his completed ensemble’s musical success.

Particular point out be made from bass clarinetist Eric Jacobs‘ and cor anglais soloist Stefan Farkas’ characterful, excellently performed solos. If opening evening’s efficiency couldn’t be considered an unqualified success as a result of soprano’s uneven Isolde, Vinke’s compelling Tristan, a powerful supporting forged, and an thrilling conductor and orchestral efficiency nonetheless contribute to a different memorable expertise of this magnificent rating.

Photographs: © Sunny Martini



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