Sunday, August 8, 2010

Don't Blame The Opera!

So deep was my disappointment, walking out of McCaw Hall last night, that I never wanted to see Wagner's Tristan und Isolde again or, at the very least, not in a very, very long time. I left the hall angry, a new experience for me and I have been trying to think why? This, despite Wagner's inability to edit, is most definitely NOT his fault.

The orchestra sounded wonderful and I am really glad that Asher Fisch will be back to conduct The Ring. Singing? We were there on an off night actually. Forbis was ill and his understudy came in to sing. He gave it his all but just didn't have it and got weaker and weaker as the evening progressed. Persson was pretty interesting too but by the end I was really tired of her. BUT having some sense of how hard these roles actually are I won't hold that against them. The understudy worked very hard and really gave it his all. You know something is wrong when Melot gets bigger applause at the end.

The problems were with the stage direction really and there were some rather silly elements in the set design. Imagine Grimsley sitting down holding up a toy ship. The expression on his face seemed to say "You are kidding me, right?" Or Tristan wriggling around on the stage (or his sick bed as it were). Shouldn't look like a fish out of water but it did.

Bluntly put, this production sucked all of the passion out of one of the most sublimely passionate pieces of music ever written. Though ably and beautifully conducted the direction was inexplicably dispassionate at best and downright annoying at worst. The first act worked for me and I was excited the rest of the opera only to be bored to tears during the second act and by the third act I was past caring. Isolde's big ending aria was just sort of "Meh". Kind of hard to compete with Eaglen and Heppner don't ya think?

This review gives you some sense of this fiasco.

http://oregonmusicnews.com/blog/2010/08/05/seattle-opera’s-tristan-und-isolde-an-uneven-concoction/

I don't mind experimentation and all that. Hell, I welcome it! They could have painted everything silver and sat on boxes for all I care. But the beautiful passion of this piece was taken away and that is just unforgivable.

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