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Wagner: Tristan Und Isolde / Treleaven, Polaski, De Billy

Wagner / Polaski / De Billy
Release Date: 07/29/2008 
Label:  Kultur Video   Catalog #: 935  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Wolfgang RauchDeborah PolaskiFalk StruckmannJohn Treleaven,   ... 
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu OrchestraBarcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Running Time: 257 mins
Region Code: All regions
Picture Format: 16:9 Anamorphic
Sound Format: DTS Surround / LPCM Stereo
Menu Languages: English
Subtitles: English/French/German/Spanish/Italian

Illustrated Synopsis and Cast Gallery

Filmed in the Gran Teatre del Liceu on 15th & 26th June 2002

R E V I E W S:

All of the principals in this 2002 Tristan und Isolde were involved in the Harry Kupfer Ring cycle (also conducted by Bertrand de Billy), covered in Read more style="font-style:italic">Fanfare Vol. 29, Nos. 1 to 4. That tetralogy had first been created for the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin; this time, the Barcelona company presents an Alfred Kirchner-directed production that originated at De Netherlandse Opera in Amsterdam. Neither of the stage designs for acts I or II are particularly appealing though act III’s setting is striking, an interior suggesting a large room on the top floor of a cold, empty fortress. The costumes are bland and the staging pretty static—but these deficiencies are redeemed by the enormously effective lighting of Jean Kalman, who makes the most of the light/dark, day/night (and, by extension, life/death) dichotomies integral to the Schopenhauran world view that was such an important influence on Wagner around the time of Tristan ’s composition. Shadows are omnipresent. During the “Liebestod,” the stage gets progressively darker as Isolde’s declamation rises in ecstasy; she moves towards the open window to look upward into the black sky as the opera ends, rather than collapsing in a heap on the body of her lover in the usual fashion.

John Treleaven and Deborah Polaski were not entirely successful as Siegfried and Brünnhilde in the Barcelona Ring and it can’t be said they fully master the musical and dramatic challenges of the title roles here. Treleaven’s voice, again, is on the flat and hollow side, without much ring, and his portrayal falls short in terms of emotional intensity. In act III, with a few days worth of unshaved stubble and stringy, greasy hair, Treleaven looks like he’s in bad shape all right, but doesn’t seem nearly close enough to insanity as he awaits Isolde’s arrival. As she was as Brünnhilde, Polaski is best with the quieter music. In act I, she projects both seething anger and flashes of sadness (“Ungeminnt den hehrsten Mann stets mir nah zu sehen!”—”Unloved, to see the noblest man close beside me!”). Her “Liebestod” is tender and quite affecting.

Falk Struckmann, a fine Wotan in the Gran Teatre del Liceu’s Ring (and a less satisfactory Gunther), is a rather oversized Kurwenal—it’s not always obvious who’s working for whom when he’s with Tristan. Lioba Braun is a caring and supportive Brangäne, with a voice as strong as Polaski; their act I exchanges are very compelling. Erik Halfvarson is surely a capable Marke, though a bit severe. He seems old and bitter, with less of the dignity and sense of wounded honor that René Pape, who practically owns the role these days, achieves.

De Billy and the Barcelona orchestra turn in a solid effort. The sonics are not top drawer by current standards, with voices sounding closed-in and rolled-off; perhaps that’s why Polaski and Braun sound rather similar at times. The DTS surround option (there’s practically nothing in the center channel) doesn’t add nearly enough in the way of spaciousness to make up for the lower resolution of that format, and I’d recommend sticking with the PCM 48/16 stereo program. The video transfer is excellent, allowing one to appreciate all those well-conceived lighting effects. Subtitles are in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and, Catalan.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
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Works on This Recording

Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Wolfgang Rauch (Baritone), Deborah Polaski (Soprano), Falk Struckmann (Baritone),
John Treleaven (Tenor), Lioba Braun (Alto), Eric Halfvarson (Bass)
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Orchestra,  Barcelona Teatro Liceu Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1857-1859; Germany 

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