This Tristan arrived with plenty of hype and is certainly about as good as one dare hope for in these times. The staging, although conceptual, is at least imaginative and visually striking without being completely foolish or haphazard. Yet,as is always the way with opera nowadays, there are annoying details, mannerisms, which will pall on repeated viewing.
Nina Stemme, it must be presumed, will blossom into the great Wagner soprano of this quarter of the new century. At the moment, her acting leaves a little to be desired. There is little sense of consuming passion, erotic love or transcendence in this performance. Her constant smirk during Marke's despair is truly painful to watch.
The tenor, Robert Gambill, looks impressively deranged in Act Three, somewhat goofy in Act Two where his voice is horribly strained and wobbly. I know, it's a uniquely taxing opera for singers. They simply have to be heroic in their capacity and although he looks the part, his voice and characterisation leave much to be desired.
The support from the other singers, not for the first time, is exemplary. Belohlavek and the LPO offer a strong but insufficiently exciting interpretation of Wagner's torrential music. Camera work and lighting is satisfactory despite one or two peculiarities.
Better than this, although dated as films (grainy images) are the two available performances by the incomparable Birgit Nilsson. Amazon offer the 1973 performance at Orange with the remarkable John Vickers as Tristan and the superb Karl Bohm conducting. Unless you're fussy about sound quality, this is the one you should buy. The other one, from Japan alongside Windgassen's Tristan, is very hard to find but well worth it.