Perth Concert Hall
August 16, 2018

What a way for the West Australian Symphony Orchestra to ring in its 90th year, and what a joyful, astonishing night at the opera. With the marvellous Asher Fisch at the podium and a top drawer cast that belongs on any world stage, this concert performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde was a night hotly anticipated – and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, one could say it exceeded expectations, particularly as the scheduled Isolde – the very fine Eva-Maria Westbroek – withdrew due to illness earlier this month, a real disappointment to her fans. Her replacement, the German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, was far from a shabby last-minute stand in. Rather, she gave an extraordinarily complete portrayal, all the more remarkable given that this was only her second go at Isolde.

Gun-Brit Barkmin. All photos supplied by West Australian Symphony Orchestra

With an intriguingly girlish timbre allied to an instrument of substantial weight and steel, Barkmin’s Isolde was every bit the proud, Irish princess in the first act. It’s always a joy to hear a singer in their native tongue, and the soprano’s linguistic authority made every syllable count...