It has been four years since the original idea and the beginning of planning this great project, namely, the historic, first Wagner’s opera in our own production, at the same time also the first opera within the Rijeka 2020 – ECoC programme, Tristan und Isolde, in the direction of Anne Bogart and under the baton of Maestro Ville Matvejeff, will be premiered at the CNT Ivan pl. Zajc on Saturday 22nd February 2020 at 18:00 hrs.
As Marin Blažević, general manager, said at the press conference announcing the premiere, it was Maestro Matvejeff four years ago who thought of Tristan und Isolde, one of the highlights of Wagner’s operatic opus, as the opera to inaugurate the staging of his operas in Rijeka. Subsequently, Blažević met the legendary Anne Bogart in New York, who agreed to direct the first Rijeka Wagner work.
“At the end of the process that began four years ago, and having seen the dress rehearsal, my view is that Anne Bogart has succeeded in realising an ideal of opera direction”, said Marin Blažević, adding that this is a fascinating fusion of musical and staging score, which he named a visual symphony of its kind.
Blažević has especially emphasised the end of the performance as one of those experiences of the theatre act “which can change you forever”.
“Wagner has to be approached with a lot of courage and readiness for contemplation; while watching the theatrical act you also have to look inside yourself”, said the Rijeka theatre general manager.
Introducing title role interpreters, he spoke about Maida Hundeling in the role of Isolde, an artist who becomes the staging normative as soon as she steps on the stage. “Maida Hundeling must be one of those artistic personalities who some of the operas are produced for and directions devoted to. On the other hand, Lars Cleveman as Tristan has one of the hardest tasks, so hard that watching him and listening to him, you almost have to wonder whether he will survive to the end. This project wouldn’t have been possible without their sensational staging and singing performances” said Blažević, pointing out that “the Rijeka ensemble colours in big roles will be defended by Ivana Srbljan and Robert Kolar, who, appearing for the first time in Wagner’s opera repertoire, are ready to perform by the side of their experienced colleagues”.
Speaking about her approach to the direction of this opera and differences with regard to her past ones, Anne Bogart pointed out that, unlike most of other operas with many action scenes and developments, the two main protagonists in this opera, Tristan and Isolde, are trying to die during the four and a half hours so that the work on this opera is particular, different and totally incomparable with her other, earlier directions. As something particularly challenging, she pointed out the coordination of music, namely, of the plot in music and the visual in every moment, or, as she said, “of what you hear and see”.
All the soloists, the four of them, spoke of the exceptional level of challenge their roles presented, as well as that of the interpretation of Wagner in general. While Maida Hundeling compared her role of Isolde with that of Elektra that captivated both the critics and the audience in Rijeka last season, when she was given long standing ovations, Lars Cleveman, who will be singing in the role of Tristan, in no less than the sixth production in line, commented on how this role grew and developed in him in the last twenty years, calling this a journey through life, experience that, owing to his own life experience, kept changing, some segments of his interpretation becoming easier or harder.
Ivana Srbljan compared the roles of Brangäne and Carmen, which she will perform in this season, pointing out their character differences, and Robert Kolar spoke about a particular feature of Wagner, namely, he said that the soloists are immersed in the orchestral tissue they have to be able to “compete with”, calling Wagner works an upgrade that arrives when all other operatic composers have been sung.
“Opera Tristan und Isolde makes part of the ECoC programme, its Times of Power flagship dealing with Rijeka history and its historically challenged borders”, said Irena Kregar Šegota, partnerships and communication director of Rijeka 2020, and continued: “It is borders that Wagner challenges, though not the physical ones but those artistic and spiritual”. She was especially pleased with the fact that a co-creation of the best Croatian and world artists is taking place at the Rijeka Zajc theatre, key EcoC programme partner.
There was also the CcbyScorpio presentation of exclusive cocktails named Tristan and Isolde, made after the original creative recipe of the members of Croatian Waiters and Bartenders Association. The cocktails have been exclusively devised for the Rijeka performance of Tristan und Isolde. The audience will be able to taste them at promotional prices during the performance intervals, while the theatre has provided for some finger food.