Wagner's masterpiece—the ultimate symbol of tragic love—brilliantly staged by Christoph Marthaler in Bayreuth.
We know the story: Tristan and Isolde, en route to Cornwall where Isolde is to marry King Marke, accidentally drink a love potion. The effect is immediate: under the influence of magic, Tristan and Isolde fall passionately in love, in defiance of the laws and the king. In the end, each is incapable of being without the other, and a tragic misunderstanding leads to their demise. The themes and motifs of Tristan are among the best known in the entire repertoire, often featuring in concert programs—especially the opening, the prelude to Act III, and Isolde’s final gasp before dying, the famous “Liebestod” (“Love Death”).
First performed in 1865 under the baton of Hans von Bülow—whose wife Cosima (daughter of Franz Liszt) would soon leave him for Wagner—Tristan was the product of over a decade of careful writing and rewriting. The opera’s tonal palette and unconventional harmonies broke new ground; its influence on Western music over the last century and a half would be difficult to measure. This splendid production by Christoph Marthaler, with a shock of 1950s color, kicked off the 2009 festival in Bayreuth, the uncontested nexus of Wagnerian opera.
Photo ©: Enrico Nawrath
Katharina Wagner (stage director), Sebastian We...
2004 Lucerne Festival Opening Concert