Tonight Tristan and Isolde opens for the first night of a limited run of performances in our summer season, which concludes with a concert performance in Edinburgh at the Festival in August.
We had the dress rehearsal on Wednesday, which was encouraging in a lot of ways. Personally speaking Tristan is such a complicated piece to play – it ranges to the extremes. You can be sitting counting to 49 bars, playing a chord, then counting to 32, then playing a little phrase – this is fairly unusual for a violin part. The other extreme is having a line which comes from nowhere where you have to instantly play some fiendishly difficult passagework (Thanks Richard…). It makes it a difficult piece to pace yourself in, because it’s a bit like a rollercoaster. Then there’s the emotional side of it to add to all that. So the dress rehearsal turned out to be better than I expected. You never quite know how a run of a show is going to go until you’ve actually done it, and there was definitely a sense that it was all starting to come together.
Performing to an audience always makes a difference. The opening night of any show adds a little adrenaline and nerves to the mix, and an even more heightened sense of concentration and excitement. There is usually a buzz in the pit that adds another level to the whole performance. I’m personally hoping that the arrival of the performance run brings an electric atmosphere with it tonight.