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Deborah Voigt Performs Isolde

Deborah Voigt, Opera’s Leading Dramatic Soprano, Performs Her First Hometown Isolde, Beginning January 27 at Lyric Opera of Chicago

These Are Voigt’s First Performances of This Iconic Wagner Role Since Singing it Opposite Five Different Tristans at the Metropolitan Opera Last March

Deborah Voigt returns to the role of Isolde, performing it for the first time in her hometown when she takes to the stage of Chicago’s Lyric Opera beginning January 27 (nine performances through February 28). Her Tristan at Lyric Opera will be Clifton Forbis, who sang Siegmund to her Sieglinde in the Met’s Walküre three times last season. Sir Andrew Davis conducts, and Voigt will also be reunited with her first Brangäne – Petra Lang, who sang the role of Isolde’s attendant in Vienna five years ago. Chicago audiences have heard Voigt sing many of her greatest roles at Lyric Opera, including her first staged Salome in a famous production two years ago.

Voigt’s standing as one of the world’s greatest Richard Wagner interpreters was burnished to a new gleam last season when she sang in six performances of his Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera, opposite five different Tristans. Voigt and the great Ben Heppner were scheduled to sing all six together, but Heppner became ill after the dress rehearsal and Voigt became indisposed halfway through the second performance, ultimately completing five of the six on the calendar. The third performance was the international simulcast of The Met: Live in HD with, as her unrehearsed Tristan, Robert Dean Smith, who had performed the role numerous times in Europe. Voigt and Smith enjoyed a superb performance and a heartfelt reunion – they had not seen one another since several months earlier, at the end of 2007, when they performed together as Empress and Emperor in Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Richard Strauss’s Frau ohne Schatten.

Fortunately Heppner recovered in time for the final scheduled performance – an enormous triumph with Deborah Voigt on March 28, 2008. The good-humored Voigt remembers the experience as “a revolving door of tenors,” and New York described the finale – which the magazine recently named one of the Top Ten classical music events of 2008 – as “worth the wait,” continuing: “Both singers breathed and phrased in such miraculous sympathy that it almost seemed as if they had prepped together for a joint comeback.”

Deborah Voigt’s staged role debut as Isolde was in a new production mounted for her by the Vienna State Opera in spring 2003. The opening night performance was greeted by a 22-minute standing ovation that was reported worldwide on CNN. Deutsche Grammophon soon issued a recording of the production that was widely acclaimed. Associated Press called her performance “a triumphant debut” that “immediately established Voigt as one of the few current singers capable of doing vocal justice to the role,” and continued: “Voigt is in command throughout the nearly four-hour-long performance. She brings a melting tone to the gentle passage that opens Act Two, nails the high Cs in the love duet that follows, and soars above the orchestra in the climactic ‘Liebestod’.”

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Deborah Voigt is Isolde in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
Lyric Opera of Chicago / Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
January 27 & 31; February 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, & 28
All performances begin at 6 pm except Feb 8 at 1 pm

– January 19, 2009

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