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June 13, 2005 by AK

Tristan’s trenchcoat

Trenchcoats are not a rarity in Russia. On eis therefore left to wonder if Dmitry Chernyakov dressed Wagner’s characters in long raincoats out of respect for some Great Western Stage Director or out of loyalty to reality as depicted in Russian TV series. Indeed, this pic of Brangaene comforting Isolde looks like a capture from a post-Soviet Russian TV series (or shall I say soap opera): two middle-aged women discussing the antics of their (long-gone?) hubbies and the romantic follies of their too-soon-grown-up children. By the way, it might be a rather good soap opera.

Chernyakov set Act One on a ship (how conservative of him) but on a modern one, and Act Two, in a hotel room. In moments of great lyrical intensity, Isolde rushes off to draw the blinds and switch off the light. In Act 3, the wounded Tristan languishes in a room in his childhood home. His parents look down at him from a picture on the wall: a young, soon-to-die officer and his happy wife. The setting is almost genuinely touching but leaves no place for the shepherd with his horn. I’d like him outside, the sound to be heard through an open window but Chernyakov placed the guy inside the room, which critics found puzzling. Perhaps I’ll see it for myself one day.


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