The overall impression becomes not just that the love story of Tristan and Isolde is timeless, but it is the story of all of our passions, addictions, loves, and losses, because you see others acting as the lover, the bearer of a bad mistake, the stupidity of shooting up, the eventual aging of all the cast. It was somewhat funky but I like the added notions so I would say it worked very well.
I noticed how intensely dramatic Richard Wagner was in his opera scenes. Act 1, Isolde is twisted with loss for her lover, kindness for an ill man, hatred of her enemy, unexpected love, and prideful at the perceived scorn by which she views Tristan's treatment of her. Act 2 helps explain away his guilt, giving him unexpected honor by giving up what he most loves. The love potion comes off as a reason for revealing truth rather than anything inherent. Act 2 twists impatient lovers, scared, and defiant, loving unto ecstacy, then horrified by being caught, ridiculed by friends, and denounced and guilted by King Mark. Then the rush into having his friend run the sword into Tristan.
In Act 3, you have pain, loss, expectant hope that is denied and denied and denied while friends coddle and impatience and remembered soaring love and then release. So many emotions all playing off of each other.
The Berlin Deutsch Opera used both English and German texts shown above stage. It helped seeing them both because I learned how much Wagner had used repetition and rhyme to help hammer home the messages. The dialogue between singers also had a sing and repeat at times, too.
The cast was spectacular. I worried that I wouldn't like the King Mark here as well as when it was sung in Seattle but afterwards I thought Liang Li did a fantastic and much better orated and resonant performance. Unlike the Seattle Opera performance I had attended, the baritone role though seemed split between King Mark and friend Kurwenal, sung by Egils Silins who was very impressive also. Nina Stemme's soprano as Isolde was suitably soaring in the most ecstatic parts. Tristan played by Stephen Gould seemed heroic at times but weak too in his denials of his needs, he was especially effective and sympathetic playing the ill old man.