Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Review: Met's New 'Tristan und Isolde' Goes Radical

Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme in the title roles of Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde.' Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme in the title roles of Wagner's 'Tristan und Isolde.' (Ken Howard/ Metropolitan Opera)
Is the Metropolitan Opera becoming a home to radical theater? Last season, the William Kentridge production of Lulu matched the opera's limitless complications with a scenic labyrinth of its own, striving to both comment upon and dramatize the opera with a density of imagery that required several viewings. On Monday, Mariusz Trelinski's new production of Tristan und Isolde treated Wagner's legend of monumental, but illicit love, to a provocative flood of imagery that went in, out and all around the massive opera in ways that were stark and extravagant, mesmerizing and alienating, sensible and senseless, realistic and surreal. And as with all radical theater, not all of it is going to be appreciated or successful. But unlike much director-dominated productions that can insure an opera's success when great singers, orchestra players and conductors aren't at hand, this one relies on musicians as magnetic as leading soprano Nina Stemme and conductor Simon Rattle to glue it all together and tell us how important it all is. more