Tristan & Isolde

July 29, 2015

Wagner’s long distance love story with “the most thrilling British dramatic soprano of her generation” (The Times), Rachel Nicholls, as the conflicted Isolde. American tenor Bryan Register is opposite her as Tristan, and Mats Almgren sings King Marke. With the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

Tristan killed Morold in the final battle between Cornwall and Ireland, and sent his severed head to Isolde, Morold’s betrothed. Tristan, badly wounded and calling himself Tantris, was taken to Ireland and brought to Isolde, in the hope that her healing powers might save his life. She nursed him. Even though she realised it was he who killed Morold she cannot bring herself to take revenge.

Isolde and her servant Brangäne are travelling on a ship to Cornwall, where Isolde is to marry King Marke. Isolde believes that she can only be at peace if both she and Tristan die and orders Brangäne to prepare a poison, which in her anguish, she replaces with a love potion.Tristan and Isolde immediately fall in love, oblivious to the imminent arrival of King Marke.

The lovers have planned to meet secretly at night. Brangäne warns Isolde, in vain, that Melot, one of the King’s followers, is plotting against Tristan. Isolde puts out the lights, the signal that it is safe for Tristan to come to her. Brangäne will keep watch outside. The lovers forget about the outside world. Marke and Melot barge their way in. Melot has betrayed Tristan. Tristan challenges Melot to a dual and is wounded by his sword.

Kurwenal has brought the dying Tristan home to Kareol, where Tristan vacillates between longing for death the need to see Isolde again. Her ship is seen at last but she is too late. In his excitement the bandages rip from his wound and he dies. A second ship arrives bringing King Marke, Melot and Brangäne. Kurwenal, Tristan’s faithful squire, kills Melot but is mortally wounded. Brangäne had told the King about the potion she had given the lovers to drink. He wants to forgive Isolde but she is oblivious to all around her. She now feels united with Tristan in a sphere of spiritual existence. For her Tristan is only now truly alive, as she is for him.