Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde / Charbonnet Forbis Fujimura Dohmen Reiter Orchestre de la Suisse Romande Jordan Py |
Grand Theatre de Geneve 2005
Actors: Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet, Clifton Forbis, Mihoko Fujimura, Albert Dohmen, Armin Jordan
Directors: Andy Sommer, Olivier Py
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
A respectable performance marred by gonzo videography...
Charles G. Johnson | San Francisco, CA | 08/29/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Take six competent singers, a not overly-conceptual concept production, an established conductor and world-class orchestra, a young stage director cutting his chops, and you have a challenging evening of musical theater. But record a large part of each act in startling, unflattering close-ups with hand-held, jolting cameras jumping between natural color and the nuclear green glow of night vision and you have a VERY annoying and disappointing viewing experience. Wagner's most intimate and intense love story was evidently not dumped on heavily enough by stage director Olivier Py for the label's taste; the cretinous video director Andy Sommer was engaged to pull the performance down to the sad level of eurotrash productions currently sweeping the continent.
What frustrates in the videography most of all is that one never has a clear concept of the stage space. It wasn't until watching the documentary on the production that I found out there was actually a model ship sailing from one side of the stage to the other in Act I. The bizarre angles are particularly puerile in the first act; Act II is almost steady by comparison, and much is lost from upstage in Act III. After viewing this DVD one could actually go to a live revival of the production and see it for the first time.
Musically, the revelation of the performance is the handsome American tenor Clifton Forbis, whose Baritone-like timbre and even production in all registers make him an admirable and heroic Tristan. Showing no signs of vocal fatigue in the grueling marathon that is Act III, his voice only squeaks once in the frenzied last scene of Act II. His total fearlessness in singing the role allows him to devote more energy to character refinement, which is rare among today's Tristans. His German diction is flawless as well. I won't consider him the great white Heldentenor, though, until I see his Siegfried.
Also impressive is the American soprano Jeanne-Michele Charbonnet as Isolde. She's a bit over the top with the teeth-gnashing in the first act, but delivers a performance varied in expression, dynamics and intensity. Her post-potion personality seems to be the one closest to her true self, for the high C she sings in Act II is effortless compared with the forced one she sings in the Narrative/Curse of Act I. She blends well vocally with Tristan, and actually KISSES him passionately and repeatedly, which is something you don't see often. Unfortunately, by the time the Liebestod comes around, she has already spent her vocal capital. Her final phrases are weak, flat, and flaccid, but she does manage to sing a beautiful last note on "Lust," even though it is mezzo forte (instead of pianissimo).
Mihoko Fujimara has a lovely voice, although it is only about half the size needed to sing Brangaene properly. As Koenig Marke, Alfred Reiter is lanky and melancholic, and has a smoothness to his not-so-deep bass voice that is fitting for the concept of his role as an ineffectual weakling. Albert Dohmen wins the testosterone award for his swaggering Kurwenal with a voice that cuts like steel. Do you really care about Melot?
I had truly expected more nuance from conductor Armin Jordan, who is by no means a stranger to Wagner. All tempos are on the fast side, which is fine if you can still draw the necessary tension, beauty, and wonder from the score. But all too often he seemed to be watching the clock. I've always tended to speculate on what kind of lovers conductors are/were from the way they direct/directed the Liebestod, Wagner's musical depiction of orgasm. M. Jordan, in contradistinction to his advanced age, would tend to border on the slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am. (Or, perhaps he's just trying to help out his failing Isolde.)
The final image we get on the DVD is a Dürer-like one of the conductor's uplifted hands with baton pointing toward the stage during the orchestral postlude, leading us to ask, "What the hell is up with Isolde?" Again, the documentary is useful for actually being able to see what she's doing during the last bars of the piece.
The stage director, M. Py, states in the extras that Tristan and Isolde is a morbid opera about teenage suicide. If only it could have been captured that way on DVD, instead of like some ineffably wretched teen video game.
A truly original Tristan a wonderful experience
Janos Gardonyi | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 10/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't say how much I disagree with the two previous American 'critics' who enjoy pooh-poohing this very fine DVD production. Probably they like the others better. Do they prefer the Bayerishe Staatsoper's effort with the cocktails in the first act and the couch-flipping Tristan in the 2nd act or perhaps the literally unwatchable Met production ? The famous Barenboim from Bayreuth videotape dating from 80'-s is, of course, discontinued but that was was my favorite up to now.This new one with its totally up to date sound and picture quality must take precedence.
It might help if these 'critics' would concentrate on the positive aspects that do not seem to matter to them. This is a truly creative and original concept of stage design and lighting making this production unique.French director Olivier Py's total commitment is manifest everywhere down to the last detail. The colour change from realistic to infrared photography at the love potion scene, with emphasis on hands touching each other, is magical. In the Love Duet, the concept of interconnecting rooms (achieved by a revolving stage) with abrupt lighting changes gives new meaning to the text. The 3rd act set is incredible with its flooded stage, a `watery world' representing a continuum of life and death. Isolde's rise to `heaven' is a finale unlikely to be forgotten.
But I do agree about some aspects of the videography with too many changes and unnecessary tilting angles. It's unfortunate that everyone wants to be noticed and be a 'star'.
To knock Armin Jordan, an accomplished Wagnerian, who controls the score masterfully and never lets the tension sag is simply unforgiveable. Conducting with minimal movements his is a passionate performance of great insight with almost Furtwanglerian intuition.Those who think otherwise, might look at his magnificent Parsifal production, probably the best Parsifal ever.
American dramatic soprano, Jeanne- Michele Charbonnet has risen to fame just recently and her magnificent voice, passionate acting and thorough understanding of the role of Isolde makes her superior to the rest of the cast. Clifton Forbis, a strong heldentenor, is a deeply suffering, sensitive Tristan who copes very well with this most difficult and strenuous of roles, though his voice seems to weaken in the last act. Mihoko Fujimura's intense and insightful Brangaene is memorable, though with less vocal power than might be expected, while Alfred Reiter with his resonant basso injects excitement into Konig Marke's monologue that can be tedious in lesser productions.
All in all, in my opinion, a very fine release. Probably best of currently available versions. I recommend it highly.
The music is fantastic. The direction of video is bad
Osvaldo Colarusso | Curitiba, Paraná Brazil | 06/30/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Tristan und Isolde is really one of the great operas .I love this music , and sometimes I think that this is the best thing Wagner wrote. This DVD musically is very good. I never heard before the majority of the singers. That was really a big surprise. Jeanne - Michele Charbonnet is one of the best Isoldes I have heard. Comparable with Altmayer and Johanna Meier .She hasn't the iron in the voice as Nilsson had and because of this her Isolde is very human and sensitive. Clifton Forbis is one outstanding Tristan . Since Windgassen and Kollo I never heard one Tristan so well sung. The couple is really fantastic and the erotic sensation at the beginning of the duet in the second act was impossible with the bodies of the couple in the DVD made at the Metropolitan .Alfred Reiter, Albert Dohmen and Mihoko Fujimura are outstanding too. The orchestra is fantastic and the conductor was really one of the great conductor of his time. He died some months after this Tristan . The only thing that I regret are the two cuts, one in the love duet ( this one very traditional) and the other in the monologue of Tristan in the third act. Musically,with thes two cuts, I think that this DVD is really of first rate .
The stage director, Olivier Py had very good ideas. I can't agree with the skull of Morold in the middle of the second act. And I could not understand the corpse at the narration of Isolde in the first act. But there were moments really inspired. The two actors in the third act as the father and the mother of Tristan was really moving. The costumes were the worse part of the spectacle, one kind of "Star Trek " style.
I can `t give 5 stars because of the direction of the video. It was irritating that camera always moving. The camera "green" was awful . And the conductor and the viola player appearing at the middle of the action are very bad ideas .
I would like to congratulate Mr. Lombard as the English Horn solo in the third act. The idea ,putting the musician in scene ,was very good , and he is one fantastic player.