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Because Tristan und Isolde is both difficult and expensive to perform, there are very few commercial labels now willing to expend the money to put a new rendition on compact disc. The project that resulted in this recording originated with the singers. It was these most capable soloists who flew to various venues and raised the necessary money by giving concerts of Wagner's music for prospective donors. Once sufficient funds had been raised, a live performance of the opera was given at the Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 8 February 2004, and captured in its entirety by Posthorn Recordings.

Tristan is an opera in which there is not a great deal of physical action. Since most of the drama is emotional and takes place within the minds of the protagonists, it is a perfect candidate for compact disc. When the cast is as good as this one, all the drama can be expressed vocally.

Susan Pierson is a brilliant Isolde with clear, ringing, top notes that easily cut through the lush Wagnerian orchestration. Her middle register is warm and her opulent low notes are feminine and richly colored. This is a 21st century diva who can hold her own when compared with the many others who have recorded this role. Girlish and energetic in Act I, her curse is full of fire and lets the listener know that this Isolde is not to be trifled with [listen -- CD1 track 4, 10:30-12:01].

Marc Deaton sings the part of Tristan with a robust sound and gives an intense portrayal of the doomed hero. He has a large voice and he uses its varied colors to create his character. In Act II, he and Pierson together compel the listener to drop any other pursuit and pay complete attention to the engrossing love story. Their appealing dramatic voices blend with romantic fervor in the exquisite duet 'O sink hernieder' [listen -- CD2 track 9, 2:45-4:11]. Later, they express their desire to die rather than live without each other in a splendid rendition of 'So stürben wir um ungetrennt' [listen -- CD3 track 2, 6:19-7:54].

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Copyright © 13 March 2005 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA


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