New BBC SSO airing of Tristan and Isolde to be conducted by Donald Runnicles

The Edinburgh born conductor will be joined by Matthew Best, Nina Stemme and Nicky Spence

New BBC SSO airing of Tristan and Isolde to be conducted by Donald Runnicles

Donald Runnicles

In Edinburgh born Donald Runnicles, Scotland is extremely fortunate to have one of the world’s finest Wagnerian conductors as a prime mover in the country’s musical midsts. Featuring the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, of which he is Chief Conductor, the forthcoming three-part Tristan and Isolde in Glasgow and Edinburgh in celebration of the bicentenary of the composer’s birth is simply something that should not be missed.

Although heard recently at the Edinburgh International Festival in concert performance in its entirety, Runnicles has chosen to explore Wagner’s great love story in partnership with other romantic giants – Berlioz, Rachmaninov and Richard Strauss. The resulting tripartite performances are stunning concerts in their own right. They are also part of a project which embraces talks and discussion with writer AL Kennedy, radio broadcaster James Naughtie and opera director Graham Vick to shed further light on this truly remarkable music drama.

‘Donald Runnicles is known the world over as a leading Wagner conductor,’ says BBC SSO Director Gavin Reid, ‘and he has assembled an international world-class cast to perform in Scotland.’ Soloists are indeed top-notchers and include Matthew Best as King Mark, a role in which he was unfortunately unable to appear as planned in Welsh National Opera’s Tristan at the Edinburgh Festival in August, and Swedish soprano Nina Stemme, who has sung the part of Isolde to critical acclaim and recorded the role with Placido Domingo.

Making an appearance as the Young Seaman, well-known Scottish tenor Nicky Spence is a voice to keep an ear out for. ‘The opening concert will be an unmissable way to open the season,’ says Gavin Reid. Tristan and Isolde is one of the most powerful operas ever written, with a profound and deeply moving story of love and death that is unparalleled elsewhere on stage or screen. Just go.

City Halls, Glasgow, Thu 27 Sep, Thu 8 Nov, Thu 11 Apr; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sun 30 Sept, Sun 11 Nov, Sun 14 Apr.

Tristan - Isolde Liebestod

BBC SSO: Wagner's Tristan and Isolde Act I

Wagner's Tristan and Isolde mixes up Celtic mythology and a rather silly extra-marital affair of Wagner's into an intoxicating but delectable goulash of doomed love with a generous dollop of Schopenhauerian pessimism. It's so famously strenuous that at least two conductors have died during performances. Perhaps out of…

BBC SSO: Wagner's Tristan and Isolde Act II

Act II of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde sees the two lovers finally getting together, but this being a tragedy, their happiness can't last. This concert performance also features excerpts from Berlioz's Romeo and Juliette. Donald Runnicles conducts, with Nina Stemme and Ian Storey as the eponymous Wagnerian couple.

BBC SSO: Wagner's Tristan and Isolde Act III

Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen introduces the third and final act of Wagner's epic tale of doomed love. Tristan is seriously wounded – but is that Isolde's ship on the horizon? If so, will she make it to his side? And even if she does, is everyone going to live happily ever after? Not so much. Donald Runnicles conducts…


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