The third, and most successful act, shows the mortally wounded Tristan clinging to life until he can see his beloved Isolde one last time.
More oil was poured on the fire when the current “Ring” conductor, the intensely media-shy Russian Kirill Petrenko, publicly lambasted the way one of his singers – Canadian tenor Lance Ryan, who sang the role of Siegfried in the past two years – was replaced at short notice.
Herlitzius gave a scorching performance as Isolde, making up in sheer stage presence for what she might have lacked in tonal beauty.
So maybe German Chancellor Angela Merkel didn’t actually faint after all.
Separately, the mass-circulation daily Bild reported that Merkel had allegedly suffered a dizzy spell during the first of two intervals during the evening. The report was that Merkel fell from her chair inside a Bayreuth restaurant during an intermission of Tristan and Isolde and was out for a few minutes before being aided by others in the restaurant.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Wagner-loving husband Joachim Sauer attended, as did captains of German industry, politicians and stars of German film and television.
The new “Tristan and Isolde“, conducted by Christian Thielemann, is the second opera Katharina Wagner has directed at Bayreuth and the first since she became co-leader of the festival along with half-sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier in 2008.
Tickets for Bayreuth are still among the hardest to come by in the world of opera and classical music, with the waiting list stretching to as long as 13 or 14 years for some productions, according to the festival’s commercial chief Heinz-Dieter Sense.
The opening of the annual festival founded by Wagner when he built his own opera house in this Bavarian city in the 1870s is a national occasion.
BERLIN (AP) Bayreuth’s annual opera festival is kicking off with a new production of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” by the composer’s great-granddaughter, festival director Katharina Wagner.