“Years after ushering his Cleveland Orchestra into the realm of opera, Franz Welser-Möst is now leading his group through what he regards as one of the genre’s crowning achievements: Wagner’s ‘Tristan and Isolde,’ ” writes Zachary Lewis in Sunday’s (4/15) Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH). “Hand-in-hand with three [concert] performances of the opera, beginning Saturday, will go two related programs fleshing out the notion of ecstasy in music. After witnessing the ‘love-death’ of Isolde, patrons will have the chance to hear Messiaen’s epic ‘Turangalila-Symphonie,’ composed in direct response to ‘Tristan,’ and a lineup of works steeped in religious emotion. All of it … is packed into the short span of eight days…. In the daunting title roles will be acclaimed soprano Nina Stemme and tenor Gerhard Siegel …  mezzo-soprano Okka van der Damerau, bass Ain Anger and bass-baritone Alan Held. Also active in this production: the men of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus…. And let’s not forget the orchestra.” Says Welser-Möst, “The psychology of the entire piece is in the orchestra, and so the more transparent you can get, the more layers of psycho-drama you will understand. I’ve always felt that this orchestra, which has such high musical intelligence, really has to play it.”

Posted April 19, 2018