Sunday, 28 July 2013

Tristan und Isolde

If it was a mistake to go to the Proms last night, mid-Ring Cycle, for something different (albeit by the same composer), then it was at least an interesting mistake.

The sound world of Tristan und Isolde is shockingly abstract (compared even to that provided for Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the final scene of Siegfried). The opera moves along steadily in one great sweep: not a lot happens, but the undercurrents are immense. And it requires concentration, which it's harder to give when standing, as I was (mostly) last night: for the Ring, I've had, to date, the luxury of a box seat, so one can be comfortable, even jiggle round a bit.

Semyon Bychkov is no stranger to Tristan, but one feels the difference between his BBC (big blaring chords) Symphony Orchestra and the not-in-the-least Ring-rusty Staatskapelle Berlin. It seemed a performance with far lass sensitivity to the singers - or was it just less good singers? No, I think not. Two in particular shone out: Kwangchul Youn as King Mark and Mihoko Fujimura as Brangäne. Worth being there to hear them alone! Not that you can go wrong hearing any live music @ £1 an hour.

The photograph shows Robert Dean Smith and Violetta Urmana (in the name parts) with Bychkov.

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