Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde”, an opera in 3 acts based on a libretto by the composer, was composed between 1857 and 1859. The opera’s premiere was at the National Theater in Munich on June 10, 1865. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but as an “action.”
This opera is widely considered as one of Wagner’s peaks as the opera makes unprecedented use of chromaticism, tonality, orchestral color and harmonic suspension.
This opera, or action, was enormously influential among Western classical composers such as Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Arnold Schoenberg, Benjamin Britten, Max Steiner and many others. “Tristan and Isolde” continues to be the driving influence for almost all of today’s composers in classical music.
Wagner’s libretto also heavily influenced symbolist poets of the 19th and 20th century.
Due to it’s influence, “Tristan and Isolde” is considered the greatest work by Wagner ever composed.
This “action” also, interestingly enough carries somewhat of a morbid history with it. The original premiere had to be postponed until the lead soprano recovered from a hoarseness. The original tenor, who sung the role of Tristan died after the 4th performance, prompting speculation that the part was too stressful to sing. This “stress” also claimed the lives of conductors Felix Motti in 1911 and Joseph Keilberth in 1968. Both conductors died while conducting the 2nd act of the opera.
Also noteworthy is that for many years, it was traditional that the roles of Tristan and Isolde were only sung by husband and wife teams.
This performance by the CMD German Opera Company of Berlin is available now at ClassicalRecordings.co