Monday, June 22, 2015

Sydney Symphony's Tristan and Isolde

After a major Wagner drought, all the antipodean Wagner riches came at once this year.  The wonderful NZSO Wagner Gala conducted by Pietari Inkinen and with soloists Christine Goerke and Simon O'Neill was sung in Wellington, Chistchurch and Auckland last week, the Auckland performance on Saturday coinciding with the first of two concert performances of Tristan and Isolde by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Tristan and Isolde was the first live performance in Sydney of  a major Wagner work since 2003! We Wagnerians have been dying of Wagner-thirst.

Smoke and mirrors: giant sail in the Sydney Opera House auditorium
onto which images were projected during Tristan and Isolde
The SSO played wonderfully well under David Robertson. The singers were placed behind the orchestra which could have been a problem in a hall with such dodgy acoustics, but they were voices of caliber and all of them could be heard clearly through the hall. At half time I was amused to hear a young actor/singer talking about the amplification of the singing and saying he could hear the singers well from the back of the hall.  He was astonished to be told that opera singers are not amplified.

The standout singers for me were John Relyea as King Marke and Katarina Karneus as Brangane. Both have voices worth traveling to hear. I hope they get another opportunity to sing Wagner in Sydney and that we don't have to wait another twelve years before we hear them again.

(Review of the SSO Tristan and Isolde)
(Review of the NZSO Wagner Gala)

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