Considered incredibly difficult and expensive to put on, Tristan and Isolde is rarely performed, however thanks to Ms. Vlahos' brilliantly condensed version and a remarkable donor to YMF (... See full summary »
Chris M. Allport
Andrew Scott Carter,
My vote is 8/10 for the singing only; the production was a bit of a distraction. Modern dress is OK for many operas, but the risk is falling into the absurd when dealing with mythical subjects like the Tristan saga. The opening act is set aboard a cruise ship: the two lovers drink the magic potion out of cocktail glasses with little umbrellas in them. Only the ecstatic singing and playing kept me from laughing.
Jon Fredric West doesn't have a heroic build, nor does he look like Jon Vickers or Rene Kollo, two great Tristans of the past, but he sings with taste. Waltraud Meier is astonishing: her voice, her body are the Isolde of my dreams (I think of Birgit Nilsson on the 1966 Bayreuth set). Pity that the director used so many tight closeups on the principals--you can almost see Meier's tonsils when she sings the Liebestod.
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