MOSCOW: Two centuries after the birth of Richard Wagner, audiences in Russia are beginning to overcome decades of suspicion shadowed by the horror of World War II and embrace the music of the great German composer.
The Novaya Opera (New Opera) in the Russian capital scored a major triumph with a new production of Wagner’s blazingly intense opera of doomed love “Tristan and Isolde” that was astonishingly the Moscow premiere of one of the cornerstones of Western music.
The gaping absence of the opera first heard in 1865 is explained by both the huge technical demands of a piece that lasts almost five hours and the suspicion with which the German titan was held after the Soviet victory over Nazism in World War II.
“This has long been a dream of mine to present ‘Tristan’ in Moscow,” the Novaya Opera’s British chief conductor Jan Latham-Koenig said. “Neither before, or after, did Wagner reach such levels of intensity in his writing.”
So far all three stagings of “Tristan” in Russian history have been in Saint Petersburg at the Mariinsky Theatre.
The Russian premiere took place in 1899 and this was followed in 1909 with a staging by the legendary director Vsevolod Meyerhold, the innovative theatre genius who was murdered in the Stalin purges.–afp