Thursday, August 5, 2010

Down Memory Lane with TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

Today's post is by ERNESTO ALORDA, Seattle Opera's Community and Artist Relations Manager. A beloved face around Seattle Opera, Ernesto has been involved with the company in one capacity or another for over thirty years.

"My first experience with Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde was in January of 1961 at the old Met. In the cast were Nilsson, Dalis, Vinay, Cassel and Hines. Karl Böhm, who was scheduled to conduct the production, had cancelled a few days before rehearsals began due to an eye operation. Joseph Rosenstock conducted all the performances that season. The 1961 cast was almost identical to the 1959 cast, when Birgit Nilsson made her historic debut at the Met. The only cast changes in the 1961 production were the role of Tristan taken this time by the Chilean tenor Ramón Vinay instead of Karl Liebl, and Rosenstock for the missing Böhm."

"Two years later, in February of 1963, the Met brought back the same cast--this time with Solti in the pit. In those days I was able to attend as many performances as I possibly could because of my “special status” as a regular standee, so I managed to see it several times. In 1966, I spent two weeks at the Bayreuth Festival and finally I was able to experience Böhm (left, Ernesto Alorda photo) conduct Tristan. The cast this time was Nilsson, Ludwig, Windgassen, Wächter and Talvela, a performance that is still very fresh in my mind."

Birgit Nilsson at Bayreuth (Ernesto Alorda photo)

"Over the last 40 years of seeing Tristan productions from Berlin and Dresden to San Francisco and New York, the two productions that linger in my mind are the incredibly beautiful Schneider-Siemssen production in 1971 at the new Met with Nilsson, Dalis, Thomas, Dooley and Tozzi with Leinsdorf conducting. It was total magic! As was the Seattle Opera 1998 production, conducted by the late Armin Jordan, the most sensual and transparent reading of the opera I have heard."

Ernesto Alorda
Community and Artists Relations Manager


  1. Hallo, Mr. Alorda!
    Hopefully, after you heard Maestro Fisch's reading, you will now consider it more transparent and sensual than Maestro Jordan's!!!
    Maestro Fisch has just THE right tempi, dynamics and phrasing for this opera (and the "Siegfried" I heard him conduct in Dresden last March; it is great Speight has secured him for us in Seattle!!!!) !!!!.
    Win H.
    (Asyou were @ Hunter, I was on the faculty there 1961-67.)