Argentina Wagner, Tristan und Isolde: Soloists and Orchestra of Teatro Argentino. Conductor: Alejo Pérez, Teatro Argentino, La Plata. 19.8.2011. (JSJ)
Director: Marcelo Lombardero
Sets: Diego Siliano
Costumes: Luciana Gutman
Lighting: Horacio Efron
Chorus: Miguel Martínez
Tristan: Leonid Zakhozhaev / John Pierce
Isolde: Katja Beer / Eiko Senda
King Mark: Hernán Iturralde / Christian Peregrino
Kurwenal: Douglas Hahn / Fabián Veloz
Melot: Leonardo Estévez / Ernesto Bauer
Brangäne: Adriana Mastrángelo / Eugenia Fuente
Shepherd: Gustavo Monastra / Francisco Bugallo
Steersman: Mauricio Thibaud / Oreste Chlopecki
Young sailor: Sergio Spina / Santiago Bürgi
Remarkably until now apart from a single 1952 production of Lohengrin in Italian, Wagner’s operas have been absent from the Teatro Argentino. This new production of Tristan und Isolde thus marks a milestone in the theatre’s annals – and a landmark one it is, being insightfully conceived and in almost all aspects superbly performed.
Apart from the few props the settings were conceived using projections and lighting, starting with a below deck setting, with a sparkling sea visible through a large porthole, that could be changed to an on deck setting in the blink of an eye. And Tristan’s castle (cave?) in the third Act looks out over a rocky beach with breaking waves and increasingly bleak weather as he moves towards death. Simple in concept, if not in implementation, it made a striking backdrop for the unfolding, largely static drama with a fluidity echoing of that of the music – the only incongruity being the image right at the start of the young sailor on lookout on the mast while in reality he was singing from the orchestra pit.
The demands of Tristan are well known and this cast was well up to them, although at least for Russian tenor Leonid Zakhozhaev (Tristan) and Katja Beer (Isolde) the German enunciation was less than perfect. Zakhozhaev made an intense and striking Tristan, and the particular demands of the third act he negotiated with apparent ease. Ms Beer also cast a striking presence and apart from some excessive vibrato at times, her voice exhibits abundant colour and power.
Hernán Iturralde was an unregal looking but outstanding King Mark, with nobility and depth of voice, and Uruguayan soprano Adriana Mastrángelo was a brilliant Brangäne. Brazilian baritone Douglas Hahn also was notable as Kurwenal as was Leonardo Estévez as Melot.
Alejo Pérez led the orchestra with energy and style, my only point of criticism that at times the orchestra was a little too loud – I feel that “less is more”, particularly in the second act, in conveying the eroticism and emotion in the music and too loud this can become blurred. But it went down well and the full orchestra joined Pérez on stage at the end for a lengthy and well deserved applause.
Jonathan Spencer Jones