Absolutely. For me, “Tristan und Isolde” is the most famous escapist opus in all of music history. And if a time knows the need to escape from the world, then this is ours. Everyone wants to make this journey: detaching yourself from the world, overcoming borders, losing yourself, losing yourself in the other. There is no more I and you. Losing yourself in the universe, in a universal love.
I want to allow this longing. This is very, very important to me, especially in our current context. The analytical “Tristan” productions abound. I don’t mean that as a rating at all. It’s absolutely right that they exist. But here I’m trying to tackle poetry with poetry. I just want to follow the ecstasy of the piece, these intoxicated states, and ignite an intoxication of beauty in the viewer.
I might have staged it differently ten years ago, I would have been more on the analytical, disillusioned side. But reality has enough of that.
Beauty that happens is something you take with you throughout your life. This enchantment remains as a value. It’s like travel impressions, where you’ve really experienced a beauty beyond the cliché. In lean times one feeds on it. And that’s how I see our mission now. Because the viewer does not go to “Tristan” to find himself, but to lose himself.”
I can work freely here and I only experience Katharina Wagner as supportive. I think it was very clever of her to teach this “Tristan” to anticipate that it will also be a nervous situation and that the festival needs this joker.
In this situation, of course, we didn’t think too much about rehearsals. We had maybe a third of what is usual in final rehearsals. It helps enormously that I have few debutants, but that everyone already knows the games. This is essential for our “Tristan”. Catherine Forster knows Isolde well and if anyone really knows Tristan inside out, it’s Stephen Gould.
Roughly, yes. So I don’t have – like the Vienna State Opera – more than 100 naked extras.
I think someone who manages this workload at his age can also take on a virus like this.”
For me, Wagner is the one who opens borders. And as a teenager, when I really came into contact with his music for the first time, it’s good to see no boundaries anymore. This music takes off, carries you away. Along with Johann Sebastian Bach, Wagner is the universal artist who most peoples have adopted.
And in Bayreuth it all culminates because this festival theater was built for him. The architecture and location of the Festspielhaus is unique. If the Festspielhaus had been built in Munich, it would now be the Gasteig, one of many venues.