Einsam Wachend
Wedding of Tristan and Isolde, Wm. Morris 1862 stained glass, after a painting by Edward Burne-Jones

Back inside the Festspielhaus there was, before the curtain, an empty seat beside me, as P13 had headed for the hills.  'Ere long a lithe young lady bounded in from the left holding his ticket.  She was bubbling with joy.  She was French and had travelled from London.  Now she was turned toward the audience behind us, waving and shouting " Alain! Voyez!" to her husband many rows behind.  They had been sharing one ticket and Act II would have been her turn to stand outside the theatre.  Alain was stunned to see her in the house in the first row.  I was excited for her.

The introduction to Act II sang out from the pit and when the curtain opened we were in a boxy room.  Arrayed in rows were approximately 200 breastplates from suits of armor, with tall tufts of brown grass jutting between them.  King Marke was obviously not green-fingered.  An aisle ran between the breastplates from the rear to the front of the stage, allowing movement for the singers.  The lighting, as in Act I, fell in little tight pools, picking out the characters whose faces were always visible.  I could see Waltraud's tongue....it was hypnotic.

Before I had gone to Bayreuth I had bought some pretty snazzy ties in Marshall Fields in Chicago.  They had animal motifs, subtle ones.  One had giraffes and another had penguins.  The animals were suggested more than seen and reminded me of M.C. Escher drawings.  Part of the profits from the sale of the ties went to the Nature Conservancy.  What I couldn't find to my taste was a tie pin or something to restrain the tie in the event of a gust of wind.

Now with both the flapping tongues of Meier and Braun, my tie was waving in the breeze from their vibrato and at times I lost sight of them as the tie beat around my face.  I eventually turned it around so it hung down over my back.

Some of the wildest most wayward singing ever to have happened in public came toward me once Tristan and Isolde met in the garden armoury.  Barenboim must have turned white as a sheet but battled on, driving the band even harder.  It was at this time, and only then, that I thought that perhaps the design of the Festspielhaus was not PERFECT after all.  Where was the SNIPER'S BOX where there was enough ambient light for a man to assemble his rifle and get a good clean shot at the stage?

The yelling abated after a while and we approached the love duet.  This was certainly more tolerable than that which had gone before, but her rapid vibrato still made it less than a lullabye of love.

Lioba Braun sang Einsam Wachend from off-stage and my ears dug deeply into the band's sublime accompaniment, which is what I tend to do when the singing doesn't hold my interest.

When it came time for the world of day to intrude, a door slid open at the rear of the set to reveal first Kurwenal, then Marke and Melot.  My last sighting of Marke had been a wonderful singer called Peter Rose (not the baseball slugger) in Seattle.  He couldn't come or wasn't invited, so instead we had Matthias Hölle who was fine in the mid and lower reaches of the role.  His voice thinned out and became hollow higher up.  He at least didn't bark or holler.

Tristan threw himself upon Melot's sword, although I would have liked to have gone first, and the curtain closed.

Massive applause but I didn't want to hang around too long and so made my way to the bratwurst and beer stand.  We took our munchies down to the lake and watched the ducks paddling by.

To be continued......

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