The Wagner Journal

Hara-Kiri at the Coliseum: Tash Siddiqui is swept away by a superb ‘Tristan’ at the troubled ENO

Hara-Kiri at the Coliseum: Tash Siddiqui is swept away by a superb ‘Tristan’ at the troubled ENO

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Review of Tristan und Isolde, directed Kramer, conducted Gardner, English National Opera, London, 2016.

November 2016, Volume 10, Number 3, 64–7.

It’s a scene of carnage. The walls are covered in blood and there are corpses lying around on the floor. Cutting and self-harming are rife. And the director of this gory tale of resignation is 39-year-old Daniel Kramer. Turning now from the ongoing crisis at English National Opera to its magnificent new production of Tristan and Isolde: hearing Stuart Skelton’s sustained, trumpet-like tones resound thrillingly around the Coliseum makes one thing abundantly clear. Whatever the solutions to ENO’s problems may be, it would be madness for the beleaguered company to abandon its London home. The last eighteen months have been a time of great turbulence and trauma, with the departure of one chairman, Martyn Rose; one chief executive, Henriette Götz; one artistic director, John Berry; and two music directors, Edward Gardner and Mark Wigglesworth, the latter leaving in July 2016, after less than a year in post, in protest at harsh cuts to the company’s core activities and staff. The new executive director is Cressida Pollock, a former management consultant from McKinsey with no experience of opera and, in a subordinate position – in reverse of the usual hierarchy – is the incoming artistic director, Daniel Kramer. At the time of writing, there is no music director. ENO and its new artistic director urgently needed a hit, a palpable hit, and this musically, dramatically and visually stunning Tristan provided it.

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