Met Opera HD returns to Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge Oct. 8 |

Met Opera HD returns to Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge Oct. 8

Elmer Koneman
Special to the Daily
The 2016-17 series of Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcasts will begin with Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde”on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge.
Special to the Daily |


What: Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcast of “Tristan and Isolde”

When: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m.

Where: Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge

Cost: $20 for adults, $16 for seniors over 65, and $10 for students

The 2016-17 series of Metropolitan Opera High Definition broadcasts will begin on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 10 a.m. at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge, featuring a modern stage production of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde.”

The opera story is based on the tale of two lovers pursuing a turbulent love affair that ultimately transfigures through death into the world beyond. Those attending this opera production must individually assess whether the modern costuming and metaphorical stage sets fit the classic Arthurian legend originally set in medieval Europe.

In this new production, stage director Mariusz Trelinski uses many settings that are more metaphorical than real. During the opening overture, there are video projections of a seaborne ship, followed in Act I by a stage setting where modular vertical compartments within the ship are shown. A montage of video projections (“light motives” in support of orchestral “leit motivs”) are interspersed throughout the three acts.

Isolde, an Irish princess (played by Swedish soprano Nina Stemme), who sings with “steely rawness to melting warmth,” is being taken by ship, having been abducted for marriage to King Marke. In the course of the journey, Isolde becomes enamored with the ship captain, Tristan, sung by Australian heldentenor Stuart Skelton. To escape her distress, Isolde orders her attendant, Brangäne, to prepare a poison potion so both she and Tristan can consummate their love in death. Instead, Brangäne, prepares a “love potion.” There follows a “Tristan and Isolde” love duet as the act ends with the two in a final passionate embrace.

Act II takes place as Tristan and Isolde meet at night in a lookout post of the metaphorical ship. They descend slowly into a dark room full of what looks like fuel tanks and armaments, a dreary space — a metaphor for the inner turmoil they both feel. At the crack of dawn, the voice of Brangäne is heard warning that the king and his followers are on the way. Leader of the hunting party, Melot, also passionate for Isolde, attacks Tristan, who incurs a near fatal blow. King Marke (sung by René Pape), in bright military garb, next arrives and, when seeing Tristan, sings an aching monologue of condolence as Act II comes to a close.

Act III opens with Tristan seen lying wounded on barren ground, being attended by his comrade, Kurwenal. A shepherd is heard playing a cheerful tune, heralding the approach of a ship carrying Isolde. Kurwenal professes that only Isolde, with her magic arts, can ultimately save Tristan. Isolde rushes in and Tristan soon falls, dying, in her arms. Isolde sings her famous Liebestod (song of death) aria and collapses. Through death and mutual love, both are now transformed into the hereafter.

For those who may be reluctant to attend a Wagnerian opera because of its lengthy time of performance, Wagner himself indicated that Tristan is a work of continuous melody, richly accentuated with melodic orchestral passages. The composition of repetitive musical phases, known as leitmotivs, each of which identify one of the characters or noteworthy happenings in the libretto, serve as another distinct attribute of a Wagnerian opera. As mentioned, in this production, visual light motives are also intermittently projected. Wagner’s breathtaking musical meditation on love and death continues to hold a unique place in the opera world.

Hot tea and coffee will be provided. Each of those attending is advised to bring their own box lunch. Note the early 10 a.m. starting time for the opera production.

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