Running time: 4 hours 40 minutes with two intermissions
Premiered on 18 May 2013
Recommended for 12+
Winner of the Golden Mask Russian National Theatre Award in the “Opera. Best Conductor” nomination for the production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in the 2012–2013 season
Tristan und Isolde is one of Wagner’s most poignant operas, the peak of the romantic art, the ideal of beauty and expression in music. Its Moscow premiere at the Novaya Opera, the fourth in its Russian history, was the highlight of the 2012–2013 season.
The production was staged by opera director Nicola Raab and designer George Souglides. For Jan Latham-Koenig Tristan und Isolde became his second Wagnerian project at the Novaya Opera after his production of Lohengrin, which was highly acclaimed by the public and critics alike.
In her version Nicola Raab used the sketches made by the famous designer Alfred Roller in 1903 for the legendary production of the opera at the Vienna State Opera staged and conducted by Gustav Mahler.
The podium is taken by Novaya Opera Chief Conductor Jan Latham-Koenig, a connoisseur and brilliant interpreter of Wagnerian music.
“In Tristan Wagner uses a surprisingly modern music idiom. From the very beginning he conducts a revolution opening the way to the music of the 20th century. In this opera there is no traditional overture; of course there is a prelude, but it immediately takes you to another dimension. This happens partly because of its unusual chromatic nature and partly because its depth cardinally differs from any piece that Wagner had composed before. The composer combines his revolutionary approach to the opera with a particular measure of ecstasy in the key musical moments. I mean primarily the love duet. The characters come through several stages of this ecstasy. At first the intensity of emotion rises towards the moment of their meeting; after that Isolde is waiting for Tristan together with Brangäne at the beginning of the second act and Brangäne should signal that he may come. Wagner begins the second act very cleverly. He composed it in Venice in summer, and without realizing it he makes the spectators dizzy with a feeling of a sultry summer Venetian night. The music is saturated with the sound of the sea and makes you almost feel splashes of sea water. The last stage of the love duet is when the characters finally set up a meeting andfly into each other’s arms… The music becomes hysterical, which had not happened to Wagner before. The orchestra is rampaging, expressly, in an exaggerating manner. During the first five minutes the music is so fast, passionate and gasping that it seems the two lovers cannot believe that they are in each other’s arms…When lovers meet after a long parting, the first moments are exactly such as Wagner described them. Then everything gradually calms down… they fall into deep calm dreamy ecstasy, which is interrupted by Brangäne’s terrible warning about the coming day,and Tristan and Isolde must be careful. Preoccupied with themselves, the lovers do not realize it. And for the first time sounds the theme that comes again later in “Isolde’s Death” at the end of the opera when they declare claim their everlasting love, pronouncing each other’s names. But it is intellectual love with a lot of conversation. Here Toscanini’s comment comes to your mind. He conducted this opera several times and once he said: “These Germans are incredible.If they were Italians, they would already have had many children. But as they are Germans, they are still talking it over.”
The Kolobov Novaya Opera Theatre 3/2 Karetny Ryad (Hermitage Garden), Moscow, 127006, Russia