It is always awkward when you start seeing someone at work on the sly. This is a – very – loose rendering of the plot of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde; a new version of which has just opened at the Royal Opera House.
It is always awkward when you start seeing someone at work on the sly. Normal routines, meetings and disputes over whose turn it is to make the tea all become invested with an air of unreality as you struggle to continue to be ‘normal’ in front of everyone else. Ten times worse if the person in question is married to your boss (who is also your uncle).
This is a – very – loose rendering of the plot of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde; a new version of which has just opened at the Royal Opera House. In Christof Loy’s modern dress production, ‘work’ is King Mark of Cornwall’s court where the stricken lovers must confront both the political and personal consequences of their trysts.
Designer Johannes Leiacker has split the Opera House stage in two: the empty foreground represents the realm into which the lovers attempt to escape and, behind a vast velvet curtain at the back, the workaday world where they must live is glimpsed. The inevitable breakdown of the emotional and physical boundary spells ruin for all concerned.
Antonio Pappano conducts to his own extremely high standards and Nina Stemme more than keeps up with him. Ben Heppner is a muscular slow-burning Tristan slightly upstaged by a great performance from Mi chael Volle as his explosive retainer Kurwenal.
Skive off work to see it – just make sure you don’t get caught out by the boss’s partner...
Tristan und Isolde runs until 18 October.