Wiener Staatsoper: Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (April 14th, 2022)

By , April 19, 2022 21:00

First, again, the obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Philippe Jordan
Inszenierung: Calixto Bieito
Bühne: Rebecca Ringst
Kostüme: Ingo Krügler
Licht: Michael Bauer

Tristan: Andreas Schager
König Marke: René Pape
Isolde: Martina Serafin
Kurwenal: Iain Paterson
Brangäne: Ekaterina Gubanova
Melot: Clemens Unterreiner
Hirt: Daniel Jenz
Steuermann: Martin Häßler
Stimme des Seemanns: Josh Lovell

With Bieito, and specifically when in Vienna, you can expect something. That’s why we choose to visit the Premiere. And expectations were fulfilled. Both: “Performance-wise” as well as “Spectator-wise”. Many of the conservative traditional Spectators of the Vienna State Opera felt disturbed. But that was to be expected. So, the performance ended with a fight between “Boo-ers” and “Bravo-ers”. We were Bravo-ers.

Bieito has been doing stagings of operas for decades now. This is his 5th Wagner, after Holländer, Parsifal (both in Stuttgart), Tannhäuser (Gent/Antwerpen, Vienna (we saw it in Bern), Leipzig) and Lohengrin (Staatsoper unter den Linden, Berlin, premiered due to Covid via Stream). So, one could have known, what was to be expected, and that’s exactly, why we went. Stagings of Bieito are intense (if they work) due to the full participation of all singers. And this includes acting and staging.

Here now we had/have a cast, that loves to work with Bieito:

1.) Andreas Schager did this now for the 3rd time, he was also part of Tannhäuser and Lohengrin.

2.) Martina Serafin mentioned that in an interview, which can be read on the WebPage of the Vienna State Opera: This interview also confirms Andreas Schager’s position to Calixto Bieito.

3.) Ekaterina Gubanova mentioned it on Facebook to me. She wrote, when asked, how she considers the work with Bieito: “Awesome and highly rewarding”.

4.) I don’t know about Ian Paterson, but judging by the result, it seems, he also loves to work with him.

5.) René Pape seemed to be less engaged, I don’t know, if that needs to be attributed to him, or Bieito’s ideas about the role of King Marke.

Bieito here again choose to not put Images to the Libretto, but wanted to present the internal fights/emotions of the main characters to be presented on stage.

For that he started with a beautiful allegoric image, children with blindfolded eyes on swings, softly swinging over a lake/sea of water. We can not see, we move, we are moved by water, water is part of our life. Later Tristan rises from that water and Isolde and Tristan hug each other long before the love potion is supposed to do its magic. Why? Because the music and the libretto tell us so:

Mir erkoren,
mir verloren,
hehr und heil,
kühn und feig!
Todgeweihtes Haupt!
Todgeweihtes Herz!

This is more than obvious. Tristan is meant to be hers. And even much earlier she states:

Zerschlag es dies trotzige Schiff,
des zerschellten Trümmer verschling’s!
Und was auf ihm lebt,
den wehenden Atem,
den lass ich euch Winden zum Lohn!

So, that implies: Early on (first scene, first act!) Isolde wants to die together with Tristan. So, it’s more than straight forward to put that into things happening on stage. Therefore Isolde hugs Tristan during her “Tantris narration”.

It’s also more than obvious, that Tristan in the second act “kills himself” instead of being killed by Melot. But in order to be able to do so, Isolde and Tristan need to break free from the conventions and the burdens laid upon their shoulders (“Frag die Sitte”), by tearing down the walls of their cages floating in free air. These are strong images, strong actions, and also performed with the needed will-power by Schager and Serafin.

The third act then happens in the leftovers of the furniture of their caves, and here Kurwenal is also as intense as can be in his dedication to Tristan. I’ve never before enjoyed that part of the 3rd act so immensely as here, because besides waiting for Isolde we also experience dedication to one’s master.

Sadly, Marke is/seems more than annoyed, so his parts in the second as well as the third act do not transmit his love to his adopted son and most beloved warrior and hero. Is this something, Bieito wanted, to just focus on the title-giving characters? If so, then Kurwenal would have needed to also be annoyed.

The final scene (the “Liebestod”) is an intense rendering of dedication of Isolde to Tristan. She places him onto the left-over table, drapes herself so, that she can touch his hand and die. Such a small gesture, so much emotion pouring out of that small movement.

Moving, intensely moving staging.

And luckily the orchestra followed suite. Philippe Jordan was taking it slowly, but not so slow. All phrases kept their tension, it never became boring.

So, double intense: Staging and music created one of the most intense Tristan and Isolde experiences, I had so far.


And you can check it yourself, it will be streamed on April 27:

One Response to “Wiener Staatsoper: Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (April 14th, 2022)”

  1. Michaela Akl, Bahnhofstr. 13, 87538 Fischen says:

    Ich freue mich für Sie wenn Sie soviel hinter dieser Regiearbeit erkennen können, das zeigt mir aber nur, dass Sie diesem Bieito alles abnehmen was dieser in irgendeiner weise erklärt, nur man muss auch eine bestimmte Leichtigkeit in die Aufführung bringen und nicht eine verkrampfte verletzte Körperlichkeit zwischen 4 Tischbeinen, oder das platschen im Wasser- das ist alles Blödsinn Effekthascherei was ein guter Regisseur nicht nötig hat, PS ich weiß dass sich Tristan das Schwert in den Körper stößt – also das hat Bieito nicht von sich aus erfunden …. So leid es mir tut, man sollte so ein Stück schon kapieren können vom ersten Mal anschauen, und so ein b9esonderer Schauspieler ist Herr Schager leider auch nicht, es wirkte schon auch manchmal sehr überfordert bzw. unbeholfen, wobei man einem Marathonsänger mit dem Tristan nicht solche Übungen zumuten sollte. Aber musikalisch absolutes Erlebnis was aber auch den Wienern zu verdanken ist.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy