The Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek has withdrawn from West Australian Symphony Orchestra’s concert performances of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde due to illness. She was to have appeared as Isolde alongside Stuart Skelton’s Tristan for WASO’s hotly anticipated 90th Anniversary Gala celebration. Westbroek will be replaced by the German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin.

Gun-Brit Barkmin. Photo © Florian Kalotay

“While we are devastated for Eva-Maria, we are delighted that an artist of Gun-Brit’s calibre is able to step into these performances at such short notice,” said WASO Principal Conductor Asher Fisch, who will be conducting Tristan.

Barkmin undertook her first Isolde in 2016 for Graz Opera – her appearance with WASO marks her second time in the part. Excelling in the roles of Wagner, Strauss and Berg, the soprano has largely performed to acclaim in European houses. She made her debut as Brünnhilde in two concert performances of Götterdämmerung in Jaap van Zweden’s acclaimed Ring Cycle with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Editor Jo Litson described her voice as possessing “a bright, gleaming steeliness with a clarion clarity and top notes. Dramatically, she has great presence and delivered a dignified, fierce Brünnhilde you wouldn’t want to mess with.”

At this point, Westbroek is still expected to appear in Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s concert presentation of Act I of Die Walküre, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis on August 25.


WASO’s Tristan und Isolde has two performances at Perth Concert Hall, August 16 and 19

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Limelight, Australia's Classical Music and Arts Magazine