Two Isoldes take the Bayreuth stage tonight

Two Isoldes take the Bayreuth stage tonight


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2017

We hear that Petra Lang lost her voice and had to be covered from the wings by Ricarda Merbeth.

Petra made all the moves, Ricarda sang all the notes.

Both were richly applauded.

Thielemann conducted.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    Under no pretext should anyone with a modicum of discernment applaud the puny-voiced and generic Merbeth. But she gets applauded alright.

    • Trebles All Round says:

      Decidedly ungenerous, Ungeheurer. I was there, and while it wasn’t the best way to hear Tristan Riccarda M sang her heart out, albeit with a generous helping of vibrato, and gave Isolde a warmth and a depth of humanity which Petra Lang might well have missed. I refer here to Petra’s own Isolde in Vienna earlier this year. To match to Stephen Gould in the great duet in Act Two when Riccarda was downstage beside the proscenium and he was centre stage with no eye, or any other, contact was daunting and not helped, I felt, by a somewhat ungenerous approach by him, and she deserved to be applauded as richly as she was. It’s showbiz, Ungeheuer, and it behoves us to recognise, and be grateful for, such professionalism.

    • Singers' advocate says:

      Is this comment really necessary? Useful in any way?
      Whoever she is, she sang Isolde at the drop of a hat.

    • HectorT61 says:

      You are a very nasty monster “Mr. Ungeheuer”. Ms Merbeth is a fine singer and to replace Isolde spontaneously while singing Senta as well in Bayreuth this year requires a lot of confidence, courage and proficiency. You may not like her voice as a matter of taste, but you shouldn’t play a the schoolmaster, because you obviously have not the faintest idea what singing actually means and requests.

  • herrera says:

    “covered from the wings by Ricarda Merbeth. Petra made all the moves, Ricarda sang all the notes.”

    Is that really a practice in opera? Well, well, well, you learn something new everyday.

    In that case, I’d love to see Chris Evans (Captain America) cast on stage as Siegfried acting out all the moves (shirtless whenever the drama calls for it) and Jonas Kaufmann singing all the notes from the wings (sorry, Jonas, you’re hot, but not as hot as Chris).

    You’d increase opera attendance and hike up ticket prices. Who says opera can’t be popular?

    • Barty says:

      Sorry to correct you Hector, but there is no Senta(Holländer) this year.
      Only Meistersinger, Tristan, Parsifal and the Ring.

      • HectorT61 says:

        You are right, Barty – and I apologize for being incorrect. I admit I overreacted … and did not check the schedule of this year’s festival. However, the kind of nastiness and meanness expressed in Ungeheuer’s comment to a singer who is willing to expose herself under such tremendously difficult circumstances is simply unacceptable!

        • Wiener says:

          Uralte Sache in Bayreuth , sah vor etwa 37 Jahren Patrice Chereau Siegfried spielen und René Kollo auf der Seite singen. War großartig.

  • Philipp v. Studnitz says:

    Ricarda Merbeth was an incredibly wonderful Isolde, when she sang from the wings for the ill Petra Lang in Bayreuth on August 12th 2017.
    I was there. And heard a beautiful voice, perfect pronounciation and heart moving passion.
    We all know that taste is something individual. But there still is some general level of quality, derived from experience and the intellectual means of comparing different aesthetic impressions.

    Before last Saturday, I’ve heard many Isoldes live on stage:
    Evelyn Herlitzius and Petra Lang in Bayreuth 2015, 2016 [w/ Thielemann],
    Waltraud Meier in Bayreuth 1997 and Munich 1999 [w/ Barenboim, Mehta],
    Deborah Polaski in Berlin 1998 [w/ Abbado],
    Jane Eaglen in NYC 1999 [w/ Levine],
    Nina Stemme and Iréne Theorin in Bayreuth 2005, 2006 [w/ Eiji Oue; P Schneider],
    Katarina Delayman in Berlin 2006 [w/ Barenboim]
    Petra Maria Schnitzer in Berlin 2011 [w/ Runnicles].

    Ms Merbeth’s Isolde in Bayreuth was nothing less than stunning, near perfection.

  • Miguel de Moura says:

    I was there and entirely agree with this comment about the excellent intervention of Ricarda Merbeth as Isolde. Near perfection.