Mystery score

Mystery score

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Don't believe him.

Joshua Kosman gave the San Francisco Opera Tristan a pretty poor review.

Go anyway!

I'll concede his points about Thomas Moser, who sang musically, but very, very carefully and without making much impact. His sound was handsome, controlled, and underpowered; Tristan does need to make a heroic sound from time to time. And there wasn't much raving or dementia in the last movement, either.

But.

Christine Brewer was magnificent. Joshua's review doesn't mention her bruised Achilles tendon, which I read about in Allan Ulrich's interview with Brewer. That's certainly part of the reason she moved so tentatively and the direction was so static. (The damn director didn't give the fully-mobile Jane Irwin much to do either.) Brewer's tone was beautiful from top to bottom, she was physically and vocally expressive, there was a ton of detail in her singing. She sharped from time to time, but mostly in the first act; I chalk it up to a combination of nerves and concern about her stability.

Ditto Kristinn Sigmundsson! I didn't read his movements as "bouncing in time to the music." I thought it was the unsteady gait of old age. He dominated Tristan, and the stage: I could not take my eyes off him.

Boaz Daniel and Jane Irwin were both wonderful.

Most importantly, I can't begin to describe the incredible beauty of Donald Runnicles' conducting and the sounds coming out of the orchestra. The pacing and proportions of this great and difficult opera were just about perfect. The orchestra might as well have been one instrument with many voices, each of which could be picked out of a transparent, glowing texture.

Go see it. Go see it more than once. If you love this opera, you won't be sorry.

Updated Monday, Oct. 9.

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