Richard Wagner is not frequently performed at the Teatro dell’Opera of Rome, which is why the 2016-17 Season is going to open with Tristan und Isolde. This has the feel of a special occasion which gives the Teatro dell’Opera a musical prestige worthy of a modern European theatre. For the first time on the podium of the Teatro Costanzi, Daniele Gatti will conduct a musical co-production with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The French-Lebanese Pierre Audi is the director.
Tristan und Isolde was written between 1857 and 1859 by Richard Wagner. It was first performed in Monaco in 1865. This three acts masterpiece, is based on a libretto by Wagner himself, the opera is a landmark in music history. All the drama in Tristan und Isolde focuses on love and death. From the first act, the two young lovers are attracted to each other, they are aware of their destiny, their passion will eventually lead them to deaths.
The staging of Pierre Audi, is essential and elegant. The evocative lighting design by Jean Kalman, focusses more on the setting and the atmosphere rather than on the characters: at the centre there is the relationship between reality and the metaphysical, in a world where the line between reality and fantasy is never clear. The stage settings by Christof Hetzer evoke the marine universe, it is a cold set with rocks, petrified whale’s bones and the careening of a ship. All elements of the scene move towards an almost abstract space, where eros, which is the focal point of the whole work, never turns into passion between the two lovers. They are thrown in another dimension, where the metaphysics fits perfectly with the musical language.
“Directing Wagner is a joy for the body and the mind” – says Daniele Gatti – “It is an intimate music drama that enhances the acting and the use of light. I am not interested in the ornaments” “In the first act we have the bulkheads of a ship’s hull, in the second some whale’s teeth, in the third we have something similar to a sarcophagus in a corner. But there are also strong elements in it. Melot, the king’s courtier is old and cripple, his evilness is revealed by his deformity. Tristan and Isolde never touch each other. They touch only each others’ forehead. Their love is a metaphysical one, it is transformed into a sensation that he is unable to explain. The two lovers are on a different level, and the musical language matches this separation. It is not only the chromatic language that leads to the exasperations.”