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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fat people really do fall in love - I've seen it
Tristan and Isolde is a love story. A potentially most moving love story. And to be really `moved' one must have empathy with the protagonists. Herein lies a problem because the protagonists in this case are fat. In fact, very fat. And this really bothers some people. Why this should be I can't easily understand. OK, we like to think that our Romeos and our Juliets...
Published on 8 Oct 2008 by D. W. CARVER

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A rare lemon from Levine
I am big fan of the various Levine opera DVDs from the Metropolitan Opera and would highlight "Die Meistersinger" as a particular favourite. However, every now and again there's one that doesn't work for me. I felt that about Levine's "Parsifal" and I feel the same about his "Tristan und Isolde".

From the first bars right through to the Liebestod, the all the...
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by Mr. Christian Hoskins


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A rare lemon from Levine, 19 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. Christian Hoskins (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I am big fan of the various Levine opera DVDs from the Metropolitan Opera and would highlight "Die Meistersinger" as a particular favourite. However, every now and again there's one that doesn't work for me. I felt that about Levine's "Parsifal" and I feel the same about his "Tristan und Isolde".

From the first bars right through to the Liebestod, the all the great moments pass by and leave me unaffected. It's difficult to pinpoint any particular reason why this should be. Maybe the orchestra had other things on their minds on the nights when the cameras were filming. By contrast, when I listen to my CD versions by Bernstein, Böhm and Pappano, I hear a world of feeling that's missing from this Levine version.

I found the staging abstract but attractive. One silly mistake the producers made was to have a flaming bowl right in front of Jane Eaglen as she signs the Liebestod. It makes it look as if she's being roasted on a fire. But my concerns are really with the music making. I suggest you sample this DVD before buying it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A huge disappointment., 13 Jun 2013
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I originally wrote this review in the States, in 2006; and even after a lapse of seven years, I still feel the same way about this recording. I would add, afresh, that I agree whole heartedly with a previous reviewer that of course fat people fall in love, but in a staged drama (fat or thin/ugly or pretty) it has to work - and there must be some chemistry between them. I have recently revisted this recording and still feel the same - there is no chemistry between Ms Eaglen and Ben Hepner - and this is a major issue - and my reasoning behind the two stars.

This is what I said in 2006:

Like the previous reviewer I suspect I'll notch up some "unhelpful votes" here, but I have to be honest.

I was so looking forward to seeing this, after reading so many rave reviews, such as: 'New York has found the perfect Tristan and Isolde.' So, when I saw that the performance was being released on DVD I pre-ordered it at once and waited expectantly. Now, I'll come clean here - I was dubious about Ms Eaglan's Isolde having seen her at the ENO in London many years ago as Ariadne. I remember sitting there, thinking 'I'm sorry, but I hate this woman's voice!' But, so many critics raved about her perfect Isolde that I thought it must have been a one off. Watching this disk I'm afraid to say that I still hate her voice and can find nothing positive to say about it. I mean, it would help if she made some attempt to act. I'm sorry and I accept that such an opinion is very subjective. As I watched her I just felt it was ludicrous and when she makes her entrance in Act III it looks as if she is being wheeled in on casters. At that point I'm afraid that both my wife and I burst out laughing. Laughing during Tristan!!! What else can I say?

I just can't believe in Ben Hepner as the young lover, no matter how well he sings it - although he is better in Act III when Ms Eaglen isn't on stage. Rene Pape is superb as King Mark and I warmed to Katarina Dalayman's Brangane. Kurwenal and Melot are well performed, as is the young sailor - and here for me lies the problem. When the other roles out perform the protagonists there is something seriously amiss.

The production is very surreal and the lighting is superb, very cleverly obscuring the two very large main performers. Although, I have to say that their size isn't the issue - it's their inability to interact, assume their roles and make me believe in them.

I'm not sure about the 'toys' scattered across the set or the trap doors - but there was nothing in the production which jarred on me. In fact, I think it's quite a good production. Light years better than the current Covent Garden one.

The Met orchestra are wonderful and perfectly conducted by James Levine.

So there we are - so much potential, but for me it was all a very big disappointment. Sorry - and I was so looking forward to it!!

As a final comment, when I saw the Otto Schenk Ring Cycle 'live' in New York Jane Eaglen was singing Brunnhilde and, in my view, she was no better than I found her in this production. Judging by the coolness of applause that met her curtain calls during that cycle, I wasn't alone in thinking that!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fat people really do fall in love - I've seen it, 8 Oct 2008
By 
D. W. CARVER (Oxshott, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
Tristan and Isolde is a love story. A potentially most moving love story. And to be really `moved' one must have empathy with the protagonists. Herein lies a problem because the protagonists in this case are fat. In fact, very fat. And this really bothers some people. Why this should be I can't easily understand. OK, we like to think that our Romeos and our Juliets are very beautiful people but there's no reason why they should be. Decidedly ugly people fall deeply in love with each other. The same applies to fat people.

I mention this because if this really does trouble you steer clear of this DVD. But if it doesn't you are in for a real treat, believe me. Isolde is being used as a pawn in a dynastic mating game and she's not pleased about it. In fact she's extremely angry about it and, by George, Jane Eaglen really shows it. As the music boils over so does she. A superb performance well, backed up by the rest of the cast and conductor. To me this is certainly the best first act on any of the current DVDs.

Does this imply that the following acts don't measure up? Well, no - not really. The whole production has a Japaneezie feel about it and this is even more evident in Act II, which works to the advantage of our hero and heroine neither of whom could be called exactly 'lithe'. There is a statuesque dignity to their passion and the singing is superb. However, as great an admirer as I am of Rene Pape I didn't warm quite so much to his King Mark and here, I think, it is probably the problem of seeing him close-up on the DVD. He just didn't seem to 'be' the King, but was more an actor 'playing' the King. So this struck a false note. I'm sure that viewing his performance from a seat in the opera house would have been different.

Sadly I have to conclude that all of my enthusiasm for this production evaporated when it came to Act III. I don't know why it is that producers have problems with this act. Poor old Tristan, who seems to be pretty poorly in that he hasn't uttered a word, apparently, since brought from Cornwall is nearly always dumped on the ground with no sign of TLC as far as any comfy furnishings are concerned. In fact, in this production he has been provided with a collection of toy soldiers to cheer him up should he ever recover. For me, the magic had dissipated and I was so irritated I couldn't take this act seriously, which was a great shame. Had Act III hit the spot this would have been one of my most memorable Tristan and Isolde experiences. Never mind - I'm still really pleased to own this version.
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27 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine performance, satisfying singing, 27 April 2004
By A Customer
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
A fine staging of the greatest opera of them all.
Eaglen and Heppnerare typically 'large' singers and no one is fooled that they are in factplaying young nubile lovers. Jane Eaglen looks like she could go a fewrounds with a sumo wrestler (and win!).
However, this is a greatperformance in stunning sound and colour.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ach, Isolde, Isolde! Wie gross bist du!, 6 Feb 2010
By 
A. W. MCLEISH (West Calder, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
The trouble with this production is that some of the direction has had to be determined by the size of Jane Eaglen. One of the stage directions is 'She sinks unconscious on his [Tristan's] body'. If Jane Eaglen did this here, poor old Ben Heppner would be crushed. Another stage direction calls for Isolde to sink in Brangaene's arms gently on to Tristan's body. If this were followed to the letter, Katarina Dalayman, playing Brangaene, would have to go down with her. And if Isolde did hit the deck, you'd need a block and tackle to get her back on her feet for the curtain call. So you have the bizarre upshot of Isolde having to die standing up.
As Heppner is also, to use a personal ads euphemism, cuddly, they make a right risible looking pair when dueting in Act 2. They can't embrace each other occasionally, for instance, and are restricted to expressing their love at a safe distance from each other.
I don't want to be too harsh on Jane Eaglen, because she's such a fine musician. I just don't think she should play this role. She should only record it for CD. This opera probably represents the peak of romantic art, so if you're going to watch it, you would at least want the singers to look the part. If they don't, they should be heard and not seen.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Young lovers?, 6 Feb 2008
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This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
I agree with a previous reviewer that there is something missing from this. I have voted with my feet and consigned it to the upstairs cupboard where DVDs I rarely watch go to live. It just seems that the monumental effort of performing the music has left them with no emotional resources to act like lovers. Maybe this reveals what a superficial character I am, but I would at least like the lead characters to look and act something like young lovers, rather than stand and bellow at each other. Eaglen and Heppner are amazingly fat and ugly. By the time it arrives at the Liebestod (if you're patient enough) there's a beautiful rendition, spoiled rather by the cheap-looking set (like an out-take from that daft 60s 'Crazy World of Arthur Brown' song 'Fire'). I would loook elsewhere if I were buying this work again.
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22 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally and utterly wonderful, 14 Nov 2004
This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
This is the best Tristan und Isolde you will ever see. Just buy (or rent) the DVD and enjoy it. There is nothing else I can say.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly dull, 4 May 2011
This review is from: Tristan Und Isolde: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2004] (DVD)
With such an outstanding cast, this should be an excellent DVD. Sadly it just doesn't do anything for me at all. I've seen many versions of this opera and this has to rank as one of the worst. Jane Eaglen is not just fat; she is absolutely enormous! She doesn't so much wear a dress as cover herself in a marquee. I find her incredibly unattractive and for an intense love story, that just doesn't work. She is so huge that Ben Heppner cannot even get his arms around her for an embrace. This makes their encounters decidedly uninvolving and unaffecting. You feel they don't even like each other! The staging is quite effective, a play on the themes of light/dark, day/night but this means that much of Act 2 is simply the two lovers in silhouette. However, as the couple are so unattractive perhaps that's not such a bad thing but I found myself closing my eyes and just listening to the music - which sort of negates the whole idea of a DVD. Unless you're fanatical about Tristan & Isolde, I wouldn't bother with this one.
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