Stefan Vinke and Iréne Theorin Are Outstanding in the Liceu’s Tristan und Isolde

29/11/2017

Wagner, Tristan und Isolde: Liceu Orchestra and Chorus / Josep Pons (conductor), Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, 28.11.2017. (JMI)

TI

Liceu’s Tristan und Isolde © A. Bofill

Cast:

Tristan – Stefan Vinke
Isolde – Iréne Theorin
Brangäne – Sarah Connolly
King Marke – Albert Dohmen
Kurwenal – Greer Grimsley
Melot – Francisco Vas
Shepherd – Jorge Rodríguez Norton
Steersman – Germán Olvera

Production: Opéra de Lyon

Director – Alex Ollé
Sets – Alfons Flores
Costumes – Josep Abril
Lighting – Urs Schönebaum
Videos – Franc Aleu

Tristan und Isolde was last performed at the Liceu in January 2010, although it could be seen here in concert version in 2012 and 2015. This production, by Alex Ollé of the Catalan group La Fura dels Baus, comes from the Lyon Opera, where it premiered in June 2011. It’s a fairly traditional production, and the most interesting aspect of it lies in the sets. The first act takes place on the deck of a ship; there are waves at the rear of the stage and a large sphere descends as the ship approaches Cornwall. In Act II, the large sphere, which represents King Marke’s palace, is at the back of the stage; it also serves as a screen upon which images are projected. The sphere is rotated 180 degrees for Act III, and the action takes place at the front of the stage. The costumes are fairly simple and timeless, and the lighting is appropriate.

The stage direction narrates the plot without any particular originality. The biggest problem lies in Act II, where the action takes place in that sphere with the front of the stage left empty. As a result, voices did not always reach the audience, even with two strong singers in the lead. It’s hard to imagine what the result would have been with other singers or in a theatre that has worse acoustics than the Liceu’s. The music has been sacrificed for aesthetics in this fundamental second act, and it might all have been resolved in a more felicitous way.

Josep Pons’ conducting seemed careful but irregular. His reading of the first act was convincing, while the love scene between the protagonists in the second act was short on lyricism and emotion; the staging did not help either. His Act III felt a little flat overall. The orchestra again confirmed their improvement of recent years.

Tenor Stefan Vinke was a powerful Tristan, for whom one can only express admiration. Seldom does one see an exhibition of strength like his in the terrifying Act III, and his singing was more nuanced than on previous occasions.

Soprano Iréne Theorin in the role of Isolde once again proved that she is one of the best current interpreters of the character. Her performance was superb, although her great love duet of Act II was harmed somewhat by the production. She shone instead in her Liebestod, sung from the front of the stage.

Mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly was a good interpreter of Brangäne but sometimes tight on the high notes. I prefer her in another kind of repertoire. Albert Dohmen as King Marke sang with gusto and emotion, but he is another singer who shifts from baritone to bass when losing high notes. King Marke needs a darker voice than Dohmen’s.

Baritone Greer Grimsley as Kurwenal gave a convincing interpretation with a voice well suited to the part. In the secondary characters, Francisco Vas was a little short on volume, but both Jorge Rodríguez Norton and Germán Olvera did nicely.

The audience was very enthusiastic at the final bows, and especially for Stefan Vinke, Iréne Theorin and Albert Dohmen.

José M. Irurzun

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments

  1. Ken Rowland says:

    Thanks again Mr. Irurzun for yet another insightful review!

    KR

  2. Ken Rowland says:

    Again…….I’ve seen both Stefan Vinke and Iréne Theorin in Seattle and have admired their work….

    KR

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra at St John’s Smith Square’s 2017 Christmas Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H