Wagner's Tristan und Isolde

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ben Heppner and Nine Stemme in 'Tristan und Isolde' Ben Heppner and Nine Stemme in 'Tristan und Isolde' (Felix Sanchez, Houston Grand Opera)

The Wagner anniversary year may be starting to wind down but there's still plenty to be savored on the Saturday afternoon broadcasts. In this week's edition from Houston Grand Opera, Ben Heppner and Nine Stemme star as the doomed lovers. The protagonists' friends, Brangäne and Kurwenal, are played by Claudia Mahnke and Ryan McKinny. And Isolde's humiliated bridegroom, King Marke, is played by bass Christof Fischesser.

Cast:

Isolde    Nina Stemme
Tristan    Ben Heppner
Brangaene   Claudia Mahnke
Kurwenal   Ryan McKinny
King Marke   Christof Fischesser

CONDUCTOR:  Patrick Summers
STAGE DIRECTOR:  Christof Loy
HOUSTON GRAND OPERA ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS
CHORUS MASTER:  Richard Bado

Comments [6]

Brunnhilde from nyc

It was a good performance....especially the orchestra. Stemme's voice is fine and unfortunately that is about all...fine. Exciting - no. Expressive - no. Emotional - no. There are so many expressive and dynamic colors available in that role...yet Stemme's voice and texture is always dark and monotonous....but at least she can get through it. Brangana was surprisingly steady and certainly showed more nuance and excitement than the size of her voice would indicate. Heppner was fine....his vibrato sounds tired but I believe that is his technique as of today....I worried about the 3rd Act but he "pulled it off" - bravo to the professional! Don't know if I'd listen to it again...I certainly would listen endlessly to Flagstad and Nilsson - they were creative singers as well as beautiful singers - I feel inspired by them, every time I listen to them.

Nov. 25 2013 01:34 PM
Jonathan Brown from Lawrence,New York

I wish qxr would program correctly.Tristan was scheduled for the 30th of November and then changed at the last minute. This is unfair to the listeners who make plans according to the opera schedule. If Don G is cancelled I guess we have Xerses and vice -versa the other way around.

Nov. 23 2013 06:39 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

I wrote my critique of the performance too early. BEN HEPPNER's old problem of the wobble reoccurred when he sang the O Konig at the close of Act 2 and continued throughout Act 3.

Nov. 23 2013 06:23 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

I enjoyed this performance tremendously, especially because of Maestro Summers' conducting. One of the biggest problems with bringing off this opera was inadvertently mentioned in the second interview, its "monumental" quality which many conductors equate with sloooow tempi. Maestro Summers never forgot that, with all the philosophizing inherent in the work, Wagner was also telling a good story. This led to humane choices in tempi, overall as well as in the moment, and certainly led to the splendid performances of Ms. Stemme and especially Mr. Heppner. But Boo! to the sound engineers for the virtually inaudible off-stage effects.

Nov. 23 2013 05:17 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

HOUSTON GRAND OPERA'S TRISTAN is a joy primarily for the orchestra's playing. The Isolde NINE STEMME has a fine voice and appropriate sufficient vocal technique to satisfy vocal range-wise, decibel-wise and musicianship-wise, but the timbre is not distinctive, although it is beautiful. BEN HEPPNER., the Tristan, is in the best voice we have heard from him. He obviously has restored, returned to, his former world-class singing. Maestro PATRICK SUMMERS has the score firmly thought out and the performance is commendable. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. My website is www.WagnerOpera.cpm , where one may download at Recorded Selections my singing of Siegfried, the Gotterdammerung Siegfried, Tristan, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Walther von Stolzing Florestan and Siegmund. Having studied voice and coached the Wagner roles with the MET OPERA legends FRIEDRICH SCHORR, ALEXANDER KIPNIS, MARGARETE MATZENAUER, KARIN BRANZELL, MARTIAL SINGHER, JOHN BROWNLEE, FREIEDA HEMPEL AND MACK HARRELL and maestri LASZLO HALASZ and FAUSTO CLEVA, and having heard in LIVE performance MELCHIOR and FLAGSTAD at the MET OPERA, I am perhaps too jaded to accord greater enthusiasm. for this performance.

Nov. 23 2013 02:52 PM
marion from new york

I was listening/watching the Magic Flute but it suddenly cut off and I cannot get back on

Nov. 23 2013 12:18 PM

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