Tristan und Isolde

Dimitri Jurowski
Herenkoor Opera Vlaanderen
Symfonisch Orkest Opera Vlaanderen
Date/Location
5 October 2013
Vlaamse Opera Antwerpen
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast
TristanFranco Farina
IsoldeLioba Braun
BrangäneMartina Dike
KurwenalMartin Gantner
König MarkeAnte Jerkunica
MelotChristopher Lemmings
Ein junger SeemannStephan Adriaens
Ein HirtStephan Adriaens
SteuermannSimon Schmidt
Gallery
The New York Times

Tristan and Isolde, Broad and Dark

Act 1 of “Tristan und Isolde” doesn’t necessarily have to take place on a sailing ship from the Middle Ages. Even a nonmaritime type of conveyance might do. I can imagine the knight Tristan escorting the Irish princess Isolde to Cornwall for her arranged marriage to his sovereign, King Marke, in a corporate jet or even a private railroad car from Wagner’s day. The important thing is that she is being transported against her will to begin a new life in a foreign land. This reality precipitates Isolde’s confrontation with Tristan, in which she persuades him (after a complex succession of events) to drink a death potion with her. Her maid Brangäne, of course, substitutes a love potion.

The production of Wagner’s work that opened the Flemish Opera’s new season here lacks any form of transportation at all. Instead, the first act, in Stef Lernous and Sven Van Kuijk’s designs, is set outside a sleazy movie house. On the sidewalk a shrouded body (we know not whose) has attracted bystanders and the police; an Edward Hopper-style cafe is next to the theater. A search for meaning is surely misplaced, since subsequent settings reinforce the impression that they might as well have been chosen at random. Act 2 takes place in adjacent men’s and women’s restrooms in states of severe disrepair; Act 3 in a chic supper club.

Because the lovers are in separate restrooms, they are denied physical access to each other for their big duet, which proves as frustrating for the audience as it must have been for them. Mr. Lernous, the director, apparently wanted to emphasize that they will be united only in death, and after a fashion so they are. Following Isolde’s “love-death,” Tristan rises from his death bed and the two, looking rather common in Margerita Sanders’s modern costumes, walk off together in what constitutes a prosaic close. The direction of the singers is surprisingly ordinary.

Despite the visual nonsense, the performance offers notable rewards. The company’s music director, Dmitri Jurowski, the 33-year-old younger brother of Vladimir and the son of Mikhail, upholds the honor of this family of conductors with a vibrant reading that persuasively balances emotional impetus with concerns for formal structure. He shows a tendency to linger in passages calling for slow tempos but usually succeeds in making them inspired.

Lioba Braun contributes a first-rate Isolde, full-bodied and darkly hued in the tradition of mezzo-soprano exponents of the role like Waltraud Meier. Ms. Braun shows a fine ability to spin out long phrases with a smooth legato, and high notes are solidly in place. The production’s oddities do not preclude her credibility as an actress. She is well matched by the tenor Franco Farina’s stirring Tristan; he brings welcome attributes of an Italian specialist — lyricism and vocal ring — to the demanding role. His Tristan may not be the last word interpretively, but he sings expressively and never tires. With solid support from Martina Dike (Brangäne), Martin Gantner (Kurvenal) and Ante Jerkunica (King Marke), this “Tristan” comes musically to life.

GEORGE LOOMIS | OCT. 2, 2013

ConcertoNet.com

Les yeux restent secs

La routine au Vlaamse Opera : l’entrée d’un cinéma érotique en face duquel le corps décapité de Morold refroidit pour le premier acte, des toilettes crasseuses séparant Tristan (dans la partie réservée aux hommes) et Isolde (dans celle destinée aux femmes) pour le deuxième, un restaurant chic où des zombies filment avec leur téléphone portable l’agonie du héros pour le troisième. Additionnant les idées au lieu de retenir les meilleures et de les organiser, Stef Lernous réduit Tristan et Isolde (1865) à un fait-divers tragico-sentimental. Pourquoi pas mais le directeur artistique d’Abattoir fermé ne réserve aucune place à l’émotion, au mystère et à la magie. Que ceux qui attendent cela d’un Tristan se manifestent.

Malgré une distribution mi-figue mi-raisin, le public ne ménage pas ses applaudissements. Les rôles-titres posent quelques difficultés à Franco Farina et Lioba Braun, voix puissantes et assurées mais timbre quelconque. La ligne se déstabilise, les nuances s’amenuisent et la fatigue s’installe chez la mezzo-soprano, surtout, qui termine à bout de souffle sur un «Mild und leise» impassible. Lui, en revanche, tient bon dans le troisième acte, où il parvient à un niveau de finition inconnu jusque-là. Le couple livre dans le deuxième acte un duo enflammé mais bousculé : il était temps que s’achève cet échange éreintant.

Martin Gantner creuse dans les détails son Kurwenal, vocalement contrôlé et adroitement composé. Excellente diseuse, Martina Dike livre une leçon de style : cette Brangäne sophistiquée procure des instants de pur ravissement vocal. Ante Jerkunica, quant à lui, gagne à l’applaudimètre grâce à un roi Marke – devenu ici une sorte de parrain – profondément incarné tandis que Christopher Lemmings (Melot) joue les délinquants excités. Maintenu sous tension par Dimitri Jurowski, l’orchestre relève le défi sans se couvrir de gloire. Si les musiciens ne ratent pas leurs interventions, en particulier le cor anglais dans le prélude du troisième acte, la pâte reste opaque et la prestation univoque bien qu’exaltée. Un Parsifal convaincant au printemps, un Tristan décevant cet automne : malgré tout, le Vlaamse Opera n’a pas raté son année Wagner.

Sébastien Foucart | Vlaamse Opera 29 septembre 2013

Rating
(6/10)
User Rating
(3/5)
Media Type/Label
HO, PO, Premiere
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Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 508 MByte (MP3)
Remarks
Broadcast
A production by Stefan Lernous (2013)