Rattle’s Tristan goes to Aix

Rattle’s Tristan goes to Aix


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2021

In his 1988 breakthrough novel, The Swimming-Pool Library, Alan Hollinghurst writes a scene where he is watchng Simon Rattle conduct Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden.

This summer, Rattle’s Tristan will headline the Aix-en-Provence Festival, just announced.

Stuart Skelton and Nina Stemme are the protagonists. Simon Stone directs. The LSO are in the pit, with an Estonian chorus.

Covid permitting.



  • Santipab says:

    This was announced in November:


    If we are lucky in the UK it may be finally be possible to have a concert with some sort of audience by summer so maybe the LSO will consider a concert performance in London before or after Aix…

    • Christopher Clift says:

      Or EVEN take it to a (whisper it) PROVINCIAL venue!! (Heaven forfend!)

      • Christopher Clift says:

        Terribly sorry if my temerity in suggesting a PROVINCIAL venue has made a couple of London-centric fans have an attack of the vapours!!

      • Arnolphe says:

        Where all the best concert venues are!

        • Christopher Clift says:

          Where? London? Arnolphe you have to be kidding. There is nothing in London to compare acoustically (on a Tristan scale) with (in no particular order of merit) Nottingham Royal Hall, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, or even possibly the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. And (at a push) there is the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.

      • Santipab says:

        Indeed but it would be good if they made it a priority to play in London rather than Aix or elsewhere!

        • Christopher Clift says:

          I repeat Santipab, WHY London, and not one of the other halls I mentioned since they are all superior acoustically to anything (of a suitable scale) that London can offer?

          • Santipab says:

            Because their home is London and they haven’t played for an audience there or anywhere else for almost a year.

  • Oliver says:

    “Alan Hollinghurst writes a scene where he is watchng Simon Rattle conduct Tristan und Isolde at Covent Garden.”

    No – you’ve muddled up two things. There’s a reference to the (completely fictitious) Rattle Tristan LP set; the Covent Garden performance is of Billy Budd.

  • Naf Arepo says:

    Thanks and yes! The same Rattle-Stemme-Skelton trio which memorably performed Tristan at the Met almost five years ago. Ninna Stemme Isolde was electrifying. If it does happen, and one can travel to Aix, not-to-be-missed. And then worth staying over to attend the Covid-delayed world premiere of Saariaho’s ‘Innocence’. [btw, she was voted as greatest living composer… https://musicfinland.com/en/news/kaija-saariaho-voted-greatest-living-composer-by-bbc-music-magazine ]

  • Duncan says:

    I heard Simon conduct the Prelude and Liebestod back in 1973/4 when he was still a student at the RAM. Memory of it obviously a bit hazy after all these years, but he was quite astonishing in his command of both music and orchestra.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    I had no idea she used to go out with Mandingo.