A ground-breaking production in recent Irish opera, Wide Open Opera’s first ever production saw the company taking on one of the most demanding works of the opera repertoire, Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre as part of the 2012 Dublin Theatre Festival. Given in the Yannis Kokos production from Welsh National Opera, the production featured an outstanding cast including a major triumph for Irish soprano Miriam Murphy singing her first ever Isolde.
Wagner’s role of Isolde, an Irish princess after whom the Dublin area of Chapelizod is named (from the Irish Síopéal Iosóid), proved an ideal vehicle for Miriam Murphy. She it thought to be the first Irish soprano ever to take the role of the Irish princess.
“Kerry soprano Miriam Murphy was a vocally resplendent Isolde. Her voice has a natural Wagnerian amplitude, enabling her to ride some of the climaxes as though she hadn’t even had to move out of first gear. Her tone was firm (not a hint of wobbly Wagnerian vibrato), her intonation true, her declamation penetrating, her handling of the closing Liebestod simply thrilling.”
The Irish Times
Six of the nine principal roles were taken by Irish artists, with the notable Wagnerian Debut of Imelda Drumm as Brangäne. Swedish tenor Lars Cleveman was a heroic Tristan, Canadian baritone Brett Polegato a suave Kurwenal and Manfred Hemm a resonant König Marke.
The performances were also notable for the sonorous playing of the 84-member RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra under Wide Open Opera’s founder and Artistic Director Fergus Sheil. The first collaboration between the RTÉ NSO and an Irish opera company for over a decade, this brought a new sound and a new depth to Irish audiences.
“Fergus Sheil conducted as to the manor born, paced the music with sensitive care, secured near-perfect balances between voices and orchestra, and coaxed from the RTÉ NSO some of the finest playing I’ve ever heard from them in the opera pit. A Tristan und Isolde to cherish. ”
The Irish Times
The opening night of Tristan und Isolde was web-steamed live by Platform Ireland, and viewed in 52-countries worldwide
Tristan und Isolde was made possible with the support of The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon. The production was also supported through partnerships with Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and Dublin Theatre Festival. RTÉ lyric fm was media partner. The documentary radio programme made by Athena Media was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.