Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Do you not feel and see it?"

An obvious resemblance with Lucia Poop from this famous video makes Violeta Urmana  more dear to my heart.
Cologne (June 10, 2010): Violeta Urmana, Franz-Josef Selig, Petra Lang, Clifton Forbis, Semyon Bychkov, Samuel Youn

That detail aside, her luscious voice brings a particular beauty to her Isolde. Please listen to her singing in a concert performance of Act-2 of Tristan und Isolde, which took place in Cologne less than a year ago [Clifton Forbis was Tristan and Semyon Bychkov conducted the WDR Sinfonienorchester]:

Another excellent performance in that concert that I'd like to share was the one by Franz-Josef Selig. I think I've listened to him singing this part even better but the way that man lives through these verses is just unmatchable. Here is his take on King Marke:

This to me? To me, Tristan, this?
Where now is loyalty if Tristan has betrayed me?
Where are honor and true breeding
if Tristan, the defender of all honor, has lost them?
Where is virtue, that Tristan chose as device for his shield,
now flown if it has flown from my friend,
and Tristan has betrayed me?

To what end the unstinted service,
the fame of honor,
the mighty greatness that you won for Marke
if fame and honor,
might and greatness and the unstinted service
must be paid with Marke's shame?
Did you deem my thanks too scant
in bequeathing to you for your very own
the fame and kingdom that you had gained for me?
When his wife died childless
Marke loved you so that he never would re‑marry.
When all his people at court and in the country
pressed him with pleas and warnings
to select a queen for the country and a consort for himself;
when you yourself besought your uncle
graciously to grant the court's wish
and the people's will,
with craft and kindness,
resisting court and country,
resisting you yourself, he refused
until, Tristan, you threatened
to quit for ever his court and land
if you were not yourself sent off
to win the king a bride.
Then he let it be so.
Who could behold, who could know
this wondrous wife that your valor won for me,
who could proudly call her his
without deeming himself blessed?

One whom my longing never emboldened me
to approach,
whom my desire renounced, awe‑struck,
who, so splendid, fair and exalted,
could not but delight my soul,
despite foes and dangers,
a queenly bride you brought me hither.
Now that through such a possession you had made
my heart more sensitive to pain than before,
why, wretched man, have you now wounded me so sore,
where most tender, soft and open
I could be struck, with never a hope
that I could ever be healed?
There, with your weapon's
torturing poison that scorches and destroys
my senses and brain, that denies me faith
in my friend, that fills my trusting heart
with suspicion, so that now stealthily,
in the darkness of night,
I must lurk and creep up on my friend
and achieve the fall of my honor?
Why must I suffer this hell
that no heaven can restore?
Why this dishonor for which no misery can atone?
Who will make known to the world
the inscrutable, deep, secret cause?

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