Tristan, a vassal to King Marke, has been charged with ensuring safe passage for the royal bride, Isolde, from Ireland to Cornwall. But Isolde has no desire to place herself in the hands of the man who murdered her first husband, and tries to poison the despised Tristan. However, the magic potions have been switched: instead of a deadly serum, Tristan and Isolde drink a love potion. Now they are united in eternal love, at the same time fully aware that King Marke will never countenance their betrothal. This opera represents the culmination of Richard Wagner’s efforts towards achieving a »sonorous silence«: at the very instant when language fails as a means of expression, music takes over to elevate the story to new emotional heights.
Opera in three acts by Richard Wagner
Performed in German
Running time 5 hours
Premiere 17 May 1995