Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
|Stage & Lights : Olivier Py||
|Sets and costumes : Pierre-André Weiz
Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Choir of the Grand Théâtre
Conductor : Armin Jordan
Back at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva after a twenty-year absence, Tristan and Isolde was going to be the big event of the 2004–05 season. Chosen to direct was headily heretical Olivier Py: this would be his first Wagner. The gamble came off perfectly. Py’s approach was utterly attuned to the work and its deepest issues: the complex relationship between day and night – caught in a flawless merging of love and death – and two heroes who set out to abolish time and space by taking the former back to its very beginnings. Py portrays all this in the style of a black and white film: the black of the set, and of Isolde and those around her, and the white of her dazzling love and desire for Tristan. His handling of the players is captivatingly precise. And with his faithful stage designer Pierre-André Weitz, Py has come up with the sets the venture deserves: the enormous ship advancing slowly through Act 1, the lovers’ multiform bedroom in Act 2, and the ultimate inrush of water in Act 3. This unique reading of the work is complemented by the inspired, incomparably musical contribution of Armin Jordan, directing the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Even despite the impeccable casting, the two leads – American soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet as a passionately beautiful Isolde and tenor Clifton Corbis as a valiant, highly strung Tristan – stand out. Nor can we ignore Japanese mezzo Mihoko
Fujimura’s vibrant, musically irreproachable Brangäne and Albert Dohmen, poignantly human as Tristan’s devoted squire Kurwenal.
Directed by an Andy Sommer making no secret of his intentions, this is a superb film, ringingly true throughout to the drama unfolding before our eyes.
“Olivier Py triumphs with Tristan” Classica-Répertoire
“A masterly Tristan and Isolde from Olivier Py” “A bold gamble and an exemplary success. The director – who is also a screenwriter and actor – takes on Wagner’s chef d’oeuvre and comes up with an interpretation that is intelligent, superlatively musical and unfailingly sensitive.” Le Monde
“A voyage into the very soul of Wagner” “In this year of 2004 the Tristans scheduled from Sellars at the Bastille and Martahler at Bayreuth are already looking at some serious competition.” Le Figaro
“Skilled in getting what he wants from actors, Py has put together a distinguished cast…Clifton Forbis’s singing moves freely, clearly and sonorously up into the trebles, and Tristan’s death is expressed with all the simplicity of true tragedy. Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet’s Isolde is irresistible: a voice of sweeping fullness and beguiling timbre, a compelling presence and a passionate portrait of a woman slowly consumed.” Les Echos
“This production will stand as a landmark in the history of Geneva’s Grand Théâtre.” Forum Opéra