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4.2 out of 5 stars23
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Barenboim)

For me this production by Pierre Chereau of Tristan has no weaknesses and is a great achievement.

Ian Storey (Tristan) is an English singer working on the continent who was suddenly catapulted into the role of Tristan (he had never seen the opera) at La Scala in one of the most important productions of recent years, learning the role in an incredibly short period. The result is a very impressive performance, although up until the Act 11 Love duet it feels somewhat a work in progress, however from then on he finds his feet and all is fine.

Waltaud Meier is at the top of her game, and with Matti Salinen as King Marke and a fine Kuwenal in Gerd Grochkowski, and a very attentive Brangane of Michelle De Young the vocal side is excellent.

The staging comprises a towering wall at the back of the stage with large doors, and props moving in and out as necessary, this works exceptionally well.

The well recorded La Scala orchestra under Barenboim is superb.

The only reservation I have is the staging of Act 111 requires constant switching between wide angle and close up filming without transitional effects, however as zooming or wiping would have quickly become even more irritating this seems the only solution.

The thunderous applause that never seems to end after Act 111 says it all.

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on 9 June 2010
This is the best and most moving production available on DVD (and I have several others). For once the actual plot of the opera is given rather than a producer;s 'take' yet it is no old-fashioned presentation. Meier and Storey excel themselves in the title roles and this is the best of Barenboim's other Tristan's - and they're very good too. Add this to your 'Tristan' collection - but if you are contemplating your first this is the one to have.
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on 21 October 2013
This Chereau/Barenboim Tristan has many fine things. Chereau's direction is quite brilliant in Act 1 and the latter half of Act 2, when Marke comes onto the stage. The sets are dark but impressive. Meier's Isolde is dramatic, passionate, and involved. Salminen as Marke is equally involved and weighty. Barenboim conducts superbly in Act 1 which is rightly conceived as one long span of music. The minor roles are well taken. However, doubts creep in Act 2. I never thought I would say this about a Chereau production, but the love duet is just dull in its staging. Strangely, even Barenboim's conducting lacks fire, perhaps because the La Scala orchestra sounds too Italian for this music. Act 3 is spoilt by the many actors that crowd the stage, which is quite wrong, since Act 3 must convey Tristan's desolation. Storey as Tristan is not unmusical but he is, well, dull. A disappointment, given the high expectations aroused by the Chereau/Barenboim team. Perhaps Chereau would have been better off directing Meistersinger with its social realism than tackling Tristan's metaphysical depths?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 October 2009
The thunderous applause after each act shows the audience's enthralled reception. And I would have been the same had I been lucky enough to be there when this performance was recorded at La Scala. Waltraud Meier's highly regarded reputation in this role precedes her and it's well deserved. She lives up to it and more. As does Barenboim's spot on conducting and interpretation. The orchestra is amazing. The revelation for me, however, is Ian Storey's heroic Tristan. Considering this was his debut in the role, I am amazed by that and the maturity he brings to Tristan. Acting by the other lead roles are convincing and the staging although stark, is quite impressive. I would have preferred something more faithful to Wagner's directions. That's why I gave 4 stars instead of 5. The libretto is so full of symbolism and philosophical aspects of the story that a sparse staging does not help in my opinion.

The subtitles are excellent, and they are very unobtrusive.

La Scala's audience is so well behaved during the performances, that you forget this is a DVD of a live performance. The filming angles and lighting is excellent. The sound quality is top notch.

A true model of how good Opera DVDs should be.
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on 17 February 2011
The main reason this DVD is worth buying is Waltraud Meier. She can act as well as sing, and act whilst singing, which I think is a rare talent. She's also attractive to look at. She and Ian Storey make a handsome, middle-aged couple. Ian Storey copes well with the demands of Act 3. And the overall sound quality is excellent.

The production is 'mostly harmless' (to use Douglas Adams's phrase). Act 1 isn't set aboard the deck of Tristan's ship; it's set on a harbour. So this jars with what is being sung. For example, Tristan singing "before the sun sinks, we shall reach land", or the sailors singing "shorten the sail on the lower mast" or Isolde singing "we are nearing land". But this isn't ruinous. The characters are all clad in what looks like Marks & Spencer's autumn collection. When Isolde is singing her transfiguration at the end, a stream of blood suddenly appears on her forehead, which is a bit off-putting. The video director cuts to Daniel Barenboim in the middle of the closing bars, which breaks the spell a bit.

When Patrice Chereau was invited to direct the centenary Ring Cycle at Bayreuth, his only experience and knowledge of Wagner was sleeping through most of a performance of The Valkyrie in Paris. But I suppose he will have a deeper appreciation of Wagner these days (although appreciating Wagner doesn't seem to be a prerequisite for directing his works). And at least his productions aren't as preposterous as some.

So I can recommend this, with some reservations. But I don't think it could stand up to repeated viewings.
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on 22 November 2012
My first exposure to the full opera (have heard the Liebestod many times).

This dvd was bought on the strength of other Amazon recommendations, and a wish to see Waltraude Meier in a starring role, having seen her as Waltraute in the Barenboim Gotterdamerung dvd, and I'm glad I picked this one. Difficult to believe this was 'one take' at a specific performance at La Scala.

The principals all sing and act well. Ian Storey brilliant in his portrayal of the role of Tristan, particularly when his voice blooms in the fortissimos. He looks a bit subdued during the curtain call, as if he felt he could have done better, I don't know why.

Unlike Waltraude Meier, who soaks up the deserved ovation with a grin from ear to ear - she knew she'd been fantastic.

The production is pretty monochrome, except for a bit of greenery when day breaks towards the end of Act 2, Isolde's crimson royal 'wrap', and the line of blood which trickles down her face, very effectively, during the Liebestod. I found the 'fade to black' transitions between close-ups and wide shots to be a bit distracting.

The sound is full and clear, my only gripe being the lack of Dolby Digital. You can choose stereo or DTS.

Anyway, thoroughly recommended.
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on 11 December 2012
I am rediscovering Wagner and this is a revelation. Intelligent stage direction and easy to follow sub-titles gives a relative novice like me an excellent chance to explore these monumental works with excitement.. Baremboim seems to have a natural feel for Wagner.
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It's said that Wagner thought of most of his works as music dramas rather than as common or garden operas. Tristan und Isolde, arguably his greatest work, would certainly fall into the category of music drama. People's tastes vary a great deal and some have told me that much of Wagner is little better than glorified shouting, a view which angers some Wagner fans. The main characters certainly do spend much of their time getting very upset and distressed as is skilfully expressed in the music and singing. It seems to me that composers such as Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi and Puccini all handle this 'getting upset' stuff in a very different, albeit very effective, fashion.

Isolde moves around putting on tantrums like a spoiled child whilst 'nanny' Brangane is at her wits end as to how to console her. Then Tristan comes 'shouting' onto the scene. This is great stuff composed by one of the greatest composers who has ever lived, we are told. Is it an opera? Is it a stage play? Is it a film? I set up these stools, but it kept falling between them. What makes it even worse is the accompanying booklet, which is printed in such small print that it is difficult for a well sighted person to read even when using a magnifying glass.

In the first act the staging very clearly represents a ship with the action taking place amidships on the main deck with a ladder giving access to the tall forecastle in the background. Several bare foot sailors can be seen moving around. The large empty areas on either side of this staging suggest the open sea. All told, I find the staging in all of this presentation cleverly done and very interesting.

Although I think it fair to say that many Wagner fans will enjoy this presentation of his great work, it will not appeal to all opera lovers. Like someone once said to me: There's singing, there's musicals, there's opera and there's Wagner. Be that as it may, what I do know is, it's difficult to know how Tristan wasn't put right of Isolde when he came across her putting on tantrums on board the ship. Maybe she's just trying to tell him that she's in a tizzy not knowing whether to sing or speak her lines.

Since the tiny print and unhelpful presentation in the accompanying booklet is so bad that it cannot help the viewer to either understand or enjoy this work, I'm deducting two stars because of it. So often when a viewer is unfamiliar with some work or other, the booklet is vital in putting him or her on the right rack to full appreciation and enjoyment, but not here. It's a disgrace. All round, I find this a disappointing buy. Maybe some of it is because, for me, Wagner is the Flying Dutchman and the Ring Cycle, both of which I find more inspiring and thought provoking than this work After all, it becomes a bit of a bore when we all like the same thing. It's all very useless booklet and very sad..
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on 1 February 2014
Performance of singers, orchestra, sets, all breathtaking I was carried away ;by it, and in floods of tears!
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on 27 October 2013
great on 5.1 surround feels like at the opera,great cast etc,great music and was quick delivery brand new sealed condition
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