Tristan the greatest love story ever.
What a mixture of emotions it provoked this evening for the ENO’s magnificent production of Tristan and Isolde at the Coliseum tonight .
In this theatre that I had not returned to since the death of my wife( on stage in Italy in our theatre – struck down whilst playing Hecuba).We had come to hear Il Trovatore that we were using for a production of Pirandello’s Questa Sera si Recita a Soggetto directed by my wife Ileana Ghione.
A telephone call from Italy between Act 1 and 2 tonight from another great actress and our closest friend to discuss the arrangements for our dear Terry Dalfonso ,whose film on Picasso had just been screened in London a week before, and who had not been able to attend as she too was struck down by a stroke on Capri where she had shot most of the film,
So theatre, real life,love, death all mixed up was a potent mix for this superb tale of eternal love that was about to unfold on the stage of the London Coliseum
From the opening bars of the Prelude it was obvious that there was magic in the air .Wonderfully expressive playing under Edward Gardner that anticipates the wonderful drama that is about to be revealed.An almost inaudible side drum and a single clarinet after the most exilarating climaxes signals the almost hushed opening of the curtain to the baited breath of the audience that had overheard such marvels.
And there in the production of the new artistic director of the ENO Daniel Kramer and much helped by the set designer Anish Kapoor,three separate corridors almost forming a pyramid in which Isolde appears in one and Tristan in the other.And at the end of the act King Marke arrives triumphantly in the middle one as Tristan and Isolde instead of taking a deadly potion are administered instead a love potion and the lighting changes to red as the real drama unfolds.
Wonderful singing from Stuart Skelton and Heidi Melton as Tristan and Isolde but also from the whole company in particular from Craig Calclough as Kurwenal and Karen Cargill as Brangane ,the two servants.
The great love scene of Act 2 lasting well over an hour in a set that seems like the inside a crystal or magic cave reminiscent in many ways to the famous sculptures of Arnoldo Pommodoro
Tristan and Isolde declaring the impossibility of their love and their decision to die together in their moment of bliss before day breaks.
The final act in which the wounded Tristan dies in Isoldes arms the moment she reaches him was indeed doubly heartrending tonight with the great eternal love that they aspire to at the end. The searing and soaring voice of Isolde reaching out over the sumptuous playing from this magnificent orchestra with Wagner’s incredibly moving Liebestod.
A night to remember.
Also ,on a much lighter note I remember my first visit to the Coliseum to hear Artur Rubinstein in a Gala Benefit Evening with the Israel Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta .
Always wonders with Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto in Rubinstein’s hands but he was not happy with his playing and quipped to Mehta as they walked off stage:” Well its only money .dear boy” referring of course to the ticket prices that were sky high for the good cause that they were all promoting.