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This one grows on you. While the cast will never be considered one of the greatest assembled for this opera, it does offer many pleasures. Robert Holl is fine as Marke; I enjoyed the business of buttoning Isolde's jacket--which she had unbuttoned as the love potion went to work on her--then he takes her hand and drapes it over his arm, the bourgeois couple going out for a stroll: very funny. Isolde points to the flickering light--is somebody going to look after that? Irene Theorin is funny and moving all the way through the opera, and sings very well. She won't make me forget Birgit Nilsson (Bayreuth 1966) or Waltraud Meier (Bayreuth 1993), but she is good.
Robert Dean Smith sings very well and impresses me (despite that Lord Fauntleroy costume), but he seems like a lyric tenor who somehow strayed into Wagnerian roles. The punch you got from Vickers, Windgassen and other great Tristans is missing with Smith.
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