In the last nearly four decades I have seen all Wagner’s regularly performed operas at Seattle Opera, including the Ring Cycle more times than by any other company.
Seattle Opera’s new production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, directed by Marcello Lombardero and finely conducted by Jordan de Souza, was up to the standard. The key and effective singers included Stefan Vinke and Mary Elizabeth Williams in the title roles, Amber Wagner (a useful name as well as a very fine voice) as Brangaene, Ryan Mackinney as Kurwenal, and Morris Robinson as King Marke. The hugely demanding music played by the Seattle Symphony and Opera Orchestra was superb. This run of Tristan concludes Saturday night (10/29).
The stage direction and acting made the remarkable mixture of family, sexual, and political essences of the story unusually clear. They did attract not just emotion in the audience but also (which is not at all common in performances of this work) some humor at the weird behavioral decisions by the doomed lovers.
Diego Silano, the set and video designer, also vividly conveyed the journey by sea from Ireland to Cornwall in ways which emphasized and clarified the mixture of political and personal motivations.
Another admirable aspect is the good English captions on the above-stage board where they are easier to see and read than in many other opera houses.