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Posted by on Feb 20, 2012 in News | 2 comments

Dallas Opera’s Tristan & Isolde simply stunning

by Trevor Neal

The chandelier rose into the ceiling at the Winspear Opera House signifying the start of what would be my first live Wagner drama, and was it one to remember. What was originally planned to be an un-staged concert version of this romantic drama was transformed and realized a fully staged production by director Christian Rath. With the help and creative imaginations of video designer Elaine McCarthy and lighting designer Alan Burrett this new, exciting, and sleek production became a reality. These three have created something that Dallas Opera can be proud to own for years and years to come.

The Opera opened with a 16 minute Overture by the Dallas Opera orchestra who set the tone and beauty that the audience would experience throughout their journey into the story of Tristan & Isolde. Maestro Graeme Jenkins did a marvelous job being in control the entire show, which is a task within itself given the length of the opera and the endurance it takes to be successful. The Dallas Opera Chorus prepared by Alexander Rom sang with their usual gusto and precision, which seems to be the standard that Maestro Rom sets for this chorus show after show.

Photo Credit: Karen Almond

Tenor Clifton Forbis showed why he is in demand for this role all over the world. His baritonal color and tenor tessitura showed why he is a true heldentenor. Where most singers falter in the role of Tristan is by the end of the third act, where Forbis had just as much security and energy in the voice as he had in the beginning of the opera. Something that impressed me was his ability to still be heard over the orchestra even at their loudest dynamic. Forbis was joined by long-time colleague in this repertoire, Soprano Jeanne-Michelle Charbonnet who together created the perfect chemistry on stage, and I’m not sure any other cast could have conquered quite as well. Ms. Charbonnet not only sang well with her lusciously edgy soprano soaring to the cheap seats, but her acting was superb.

Mezzo-Soprano Mary Phillips made her role debut as Brangane and if one had not read that in the Playbill, you would never have know. She sang and acted the role as if she had been performing it for years. I’m sure this will not be the last time we hear Ms. Phillips in this role. Icelandic Bass Kristinn Sigmundsson, as the King Marke of Cornwall, made the rafters ring with his huge and presently warm-colored bass. His vigorous power, freakish range and lofty presence made him perfect for this role. Bass-Baritone Jukka Rasilainen presented a sturdy bass-baritone, which I felt had the potential to give more.

In the role of Melot, British Baritone Stephen Gadd made his American debut. His sweet, yet edgy baritone was the perfect contrast to the other voices in this cast. Tenor Aaron Blake and Bass Quincy Roberts were both suitable in their respectful roles as A Young Sailor/A Shepard and A Helmsman. The Sets, projections, costumes, singing, just everything, came together to make this a memorable production for all.

A native of Dallas, Texas, baritone Trevor Neal is a favorite among audiences throughout the southwest United States. Trevor has appeared in concert with the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Phoenix Chamber Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony, and numerous community orchestras. He is a member of the  South Dakota Chorale, and ensemble of professional singers based in Sioux Falls, SD. Trevor is a soloist on their first album to be distributed by Naxos in May 2012.  He is pursuing the Bachelor of Music degree in Voice performance at the University of North Texas where his opera credits include that of Colline in La Boheme, Dottore in La Traviata, and Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, a role which he reprised in his appearance with Spotlight on Opera Company of Austin, Texas. This past Festival season, with Spotlight, he will make his role debut in the role of Ford from Verdi’s Falstaff. He has been under the baton of conductors such as Patrick Summers, David Itkin, Graeme Jenkins and coaching’s with acclaimed MET Tenor Richard Croft, Jake Heggie, and Stephen Dubberly. Trevor participated as a chorister in the World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Moby-Dick and Boris Godunov, and the upcoming engagements of Lucia di Lammermoor, La Traviata and The Magic Flute with The Dallas Opera. Trevor studies with baritone Jeffrey Snider.


Two more opportunities to catch this stunning production

Feb 22 & 25th 7pm Curtain

Winspear Opera House

Tickets available at or 214-443-1000

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  1. Bahahaha. Forgot to mention that it took 40+ minutes for the lead to die and that the Dallas Opera made the tragic mistake of subtitles when they posted the INTERMISSION message during the end of ACT 2.

  2. I think it is very important to remember that this production was put together at the last minute, with subtitles being purchased from another opera company. I would like to think given the late put together this production deserves even more credit for being so fantastic.


  1. Tristan & Isolde – What a Night! | The Dallas Opera Blog - [...] Trevor Neal of “Operagasm” thought that “everything came together” in this production.  Read his review here. [...]

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