Tristan And Isolde Tickets

Tristan und Isolde is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Strasburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and received its first performance, conducted by Hans von Bulow, in Munich on 10 June 1865. In the first Act, Isolde is being taken by ship to Cornwall to be married against her will to King Marke. She is furious with Marke's adopted son, Tristan, whose life she once spared and who has now betrayed her. She summons him to drink atonement to her. Tristan believes that this drink is poisoned, but takes it anyway, and Isolde drinks the remainder. Believing that they are about to die, they declare their true feelings of love for each other, but discover that Isolde's maid Brangaene has switched the drink for a love potion. In the second Act the lovers meet while the King and his party are out hunting at night, but they are discovered and Tristan is mortally wounded. In the third Act, Tristan, now returned alone to his lands in Kareol, and barely alive, yearns for Isolde. Only her return can save his life. At the end of the Act, Isolde does return, and Tristan dies in her arms. Isolde joins him in death, transfigured by grief.
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In composing Tristan und Isolde, Wagner was inspired by his affair with Mathilde Wesendonck, and also by the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer. Widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertory, Tristan was notable for Wagner's advanced use of tonality, orchestral color and harmonic suspension. The opera was profoundly influential amongst Western classical composers, with Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Alban Berg and Arnold Schoenberg all drawing inspiration from it. Many see Tristan as marking the beginning of the move away from conventional harmony and tonality which would ultimately lead classical music towards the 20th century atonal movement.

Composition

In 1849 Wagner was forced to abandon his position as Conductor of the Dresden Opera because of his participation in the unsuccessful May Revolution, which resulted in a warrant being posted for his arrest. He fled to Zurich, leaving behind his wife, Minna. In Zurich in 1852 he met the wealthy Otto Wesendonck, who had made a fortune from his New York silk trading firm. Wesendonck became one of Wagner's supporters, and bankrolled the composer for several years. Wesendonck's wife, Mathilde, also became increasingly enamoured of the composer. Wagner was at that time working on Der Ring des Nibelungen, but found himself preoccupied by the legend of Tristan und Isolde. The re-discovery of medieval Germanic poetry, including Gottfried von Strassburg's version of Tristan, the Nibelunglied and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival had a major impact on German Romantic movements during the middle of the 19th century. The story of Tristan and Isolde was one of the quintessential romances of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Several versions exist, the earliest dating to the middle of the 12th century. Gottfried's version was of the so called courtly branch of the tradition, and had a huge influence on later German literature. By the end of 1854, he had sketched out all three acts of an opera on the Tristan theme, based on Gottfried von Strasburg's telling of the story, although it was not until August 1857 that he began working full-time on the opera, putting aside the composition of Siegfried to do so. On 20th August he began the prose sketch for the opera, and the libretto was completed by September 18. By this time Wagner was living in a cottage built in the grounds of Wesendonck's villa, and during his work on Tristan und Isolde was passionately involved with Mathilde Wesendonck, although it remains uncertain as to whether or not this relationship was platonic. One evening in September of that year, Wagner read the finished poem of Tristan to an audience which included his wife, Minna, his current muse, Mathilde, and his future mistress and later wife, Cosima von Bulow.

Premiere

Tristan und Isolde proved to be a difficult opera to stage. Paris was the centre of the operatic world in the middle of the 19th century; however, following the disastrous staging of Tannhauser at the Paris Opera in 1861 Wagner offered the piece to the Karlsruhe opera. But when he visited the Vienna Court Opera to rehearse possible singers for this production, the management at Vienna suggested staging the opera there. Originally the tenor Alois Ander was to sing the part of Tristan, however he proved incapable of learning the role. It was only following Wagner's adoption by Ludwig II of Bavaria that resources could be found to mount the premiere of Tristan. Hans von Bulow was chosen to conduct the production, to be staged at the Munich Opera, despite the fact that Wagner was having an affair with his wife Cosima von Bulow. Even then the planned premiere on May 15th 1865 had to be cancelled because the Isolde, Malvina Schnorr had gone hoarse. Only on June 10th 1865 was the work finally performed for the first time. Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld sang the role of Tristan with the role of Isolde sung by his wife, Malvina. Three weeks after the fourth performance Ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld died suddenly, prompting speculation that the exertion involved in singing the part of Tristan had killed him. The stress of performing Tristan also claimed the lives of conductors Felix Mottl in 1911, and Joseph Keilberth in 1968. Both died while conducting the second Act of the opera.