Tristan & Isolde


Opera in 3 acts from Richard Wagner

musical direction: Daniel Kawka
staging: Olivier Py
set, costumes: Pierre-André Weitz
assistants: Wissam Arbace (staging), Bertrand Killy (lightning)
Elaine McKrill , Isolde
Leonid Zahozhaev , Tristan
Martina Dike , Brangäne
Jirky Korhonen , the King Marke
Alfred Walker , Kurwenal
Christophe Berry , a young sailor, a shipherd
Eric Vrain , a pilote
Eric Huchet , Melot
Orchestra and Choir of the “Opéra de Dijon”


In the pit, the musicians brought together under Daniel Kawka’s baton display a coherent tone, indisputably convincing: work on the transparency and the strings’ motivity, sensual relief of the woodwind (oboes, bassoons, clarinets), gourmand opulence and sometimes sarcasm of the brass instruments: no doubt, the conductor, elsewhere director of the Contemporary Orchestra, understands Wagner. He brings, as a score lover, a generous, deep, intensively lyrical gesture, which especially in the night act (the night act from the lovers blindness before being given by Melot), is able to ignite, obtaining a magnificent sound from the musicians: nothing better to reinforce the visual magic that is unfolding on stage: a succession of different scenes from the same room, conceived as the states of a trance and of an emotional metamorphosis lived out by a magnificent couple. Fitted to the huge setting, the required manpower overflows sometimes from the pit and submerges the singers in places, but the unity and the poetical tension that the highly inspired conductor manages to transmit to his interpreters, turns out to be winning. Not for a long time have we heard Tristan so sensual and electric, between ecstasy, abandon, tenderness and bitterness. The radical violence taking place is more explicit: Tristan, tragic opera and languorous? Not the case in DanielKawka’s eyes: it is more a permanent discharge of electrical energy and ecstatic hymns. Tristan, like Yseult shows himself to be determined, tending toward death, known as the only exit for deliverance and surpassing.
Thus ends in 2009, the journey of the mythical production signed by Olivier Py (which marks as well the end of the lyrical season of the Dijon Opera). The Dijonaise leg of the tour proved the blazing and electric (II) confidence of the conductor Daniel Kawkawhose work currently continue around The Gods Twilight and Richard Strauss operas. Tristan, Brangäne, Marke rounded off a miraculous triad carried out by the superlative drive of two orchestras brought together (Camerata from Bourgogne and the Orchestra of Dijon). It is a pity that in its « miraculous » centre, the singing of the soprano Elaine McKrill, chosen for Dijon, appeared to us less obvious a choice.
Be that as it may, we now have proof that the best productions are not exclusive to Paris. The new season 2009-2010 of Dijonpromises surprises and new discoveries of which classiquenewswill inform you soon.

Alexandre Pham, Classic News


Daniel Kawka operated a magnificent piece of work with theDijon Opera. The complex score gives the impression to be perfectly mastered : the leitmotiv rises with efficiency, the sonorous framework is differentiated expertly, the preludes of the first and third acts engross us in the atmosphere, especially the third one that superbly resounds the Leitmotiv of the loneliness ; the English horn soloist relays this impression in a frightening way. Capœira dancers bring dynamism to this oppressive atmosphere.

The stage is at the same time homogeneous and convincing. The King Marke has an admirable stage presence thanks to the powerful and deep voice of Jyrki Korhonen. Elaine McKrill plays the main role with subtlety and the final song « Mild und leise » is strengthen by her musicality. The loving duet leaves her sometimes below Leonid Zakhozhaev’s radiant timbre: the entwined dialogue « O sink Hernieder » shows the singers to not be in the same league. Something must be said of Martina Dike, who possesses a magnificent Wagnerian voice; her voice combines the power with the warmth of the timbre, and it manages as easily to mingle poetically with the orchestra in « Haben acht » as in « la gaite de la tour».

Joelle Farenc, Resmusica


Welcome Daniel Kawka who, from the prelude, adds to this fascinating atmosphere. Here is a conductor that knows how to take his time and is not afraid of silences. He is not wrong, because they are magnificent; they plunge the spectator into a metaphysical bath, and add some magnetism to the performance. The sonorous range of Camerata de Bourgogne- DijonOrchestra, is subtle and enlightening, the English horn (played on stage) is at the same time vibrating, luminous and desperate.

Isabelle Stibbe, Anaclase


Succeeding the American J. A. the french conductor Daniel Kawka, by his smooth conducting, with great clearness in emphasizing the leitmotiv, knows constantly how to revive the interest. The musicians from the Orchestra of Dijon Opera and the Camerata from Bourgogne, under the precise and clear baton, achieve concentration and intensity miracles that we have never seen before, just like Jean-François Louis’s English horn with a wonderful sound that seems to pierce the rarefied. Thanks to its homogeneity, its commitment, its poetry, the whole of the performance is a privileged time, achieving in its own way this osmosis between theatre and music as Wagner wished.

Michel Le Naour,


After Geneva and Angers-Nantes, Dijon! The public studio from the capital of Bourgogne welcomed for two evenings the already mythical Tristan d’Olivier Py, which we believed was reserved for ever to the Lemant Lake banks. Perfect integration with the room, local orchestra completely transformed, Casting better than in Bayreuth last summer ; to sum up, an exemplary success.

The biggest surprise of the evening was the performance of theDijon Orchestra, without doubt widely reinforced, who distils a melting, high quality sonorous mix, where asperities are sometimes lacking, but with a noteworthy homogeneity and a remarkable crepuscular colour.

Daniel Kawka’s conducting contributed a lot to this, always attentive to not cover the stage, reserving his grand forays for when the orchestra was playing alone, with a magnificent fluidity, with a finishing quality transformed by some breathtaking transitions– the one before Liebestod offering the weightlessness experience in a uncertain atmosphere– and a care of the timbres giving birth to a monologue from Marke the King which is amongst the best conducted we have ever heard : alive, serving the text, the declamation, stripped of emphasis.

Of the casting, we will remember the general homogeneity, better than the one offered last year by Bayreuth, thanks notably to the choice of clear voices of colour and diction.

Yannick Million, Alta Musica