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Thread: Wagner's Tristan und Isolde

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I don't believe that there's anything in the opera to suggest their age. Nor do I remember that there is any indication of the time between Acts 1 and 2.
    Correct, although Wagner has Isolde referred to as the Irish/Ireland's child (Irisch/Irlands Kind) and as a Maid at various points in the opera; not conclusive, but suggestive of a young woman. In Gottfried von Strassburg's romance (Arthur Hatto's translation), she is often referred to as young. As a princess of marriageable age in the 12th Century, Gottfried's audience would probably have envisioned her as a teenager in any case, even if her age isn't specified. Likewise, Gottfried describes Tristan as a "young lord" and an "agreeable young man".
    Last edited by Reichstag aus LICHT; Oct-24-2019 at 13:57.

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  3. #32
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wkasimer View Post
    I don't believe that there's anything in the opera to suggest their age. Nor do I remember that there is any indication of the time between Acts 1 and 2.



    That's fine if you don't expect them to sing well. And if you rely on video, it's harder to disguise age than it is on stage.
    The stage was a refuge for mature singers. These days it's harder and harder with better lighting and the effects. The problem Wagner set himself was to set music for young lovers that only mature singers (with the odd exception) could really sing. The last production of Tristan I saw was impossible to take seriously. Mind you, the last Trovatore was the same as the Manrico looked older than me!

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    Quote Originally Posted by damianjb1 View Post
    And now I find the Prelude to Act 3 the ultimate representation of tragedy. If I image what the worst thing that could possibly happen would sound like - it's the opening of Act 3.
    Very nice indeed - I'm listening to the Carlos Kleiber - Staatskapelle Dresden 1982.

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    Quote Originally Posted by janxharris View Post
    Interesting - thanks.

    You mean Brangäne's warning about Melot in Act II.
    It comes midway through the love duet, "Einsam wachend in der Nacht".

    And then it's repeated just before the end of the love duet.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jirpqoYik9Q

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    I truly love this opera. I would add two of my favorites to the previous list:

    1935 - Metropolitan Opera production conducted by Artur Bodanzky with Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad
    1937 - Royal Opera House production conducted by Thomas Beecham with Lauritz Melchior and Kirsten Flagstad

    Both of these are available in good sound (for historical recordings) from Immortal Performances. They are ones I come back to again and again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I hesitate to say that I love Tristan und isolde. For me it's too much of a muchness to inspire an emotion I'd call "love," except in moments when I'm feeling young, foolish and brave (or remembering when I really was). Of Wagner's operas I can love Die Walkure, or Die Meistersinger, or Parsifal, works which touch things in my soul which, however deep or even, at times, too deep for comfort, have remained with me, guarded and cherished, over the years. But the dark, unspeakable passion and self-rending catastrophe of Tristan are too much and too unfamiliar (or thankfully forgotten) for me to cherish, except at certain moments when the desperate storm of passion relents and Wagner lets us glimpse the heartbreaking, transcendental beauty to which the whole ordeal aspires and which Isolde reaches at the end.

    I can, at least, get through a performance of the opera with my mind intact. But a great performance still has for many people the kind of fearful power that Wagner imagined it would. As Nietzsche said: "The world is poor for him who has never been sick enough for this voluptuousness of hell."
    I would advise you to lay off the Tristan, for your own health and sanity. Some people can handle it, and some can't. It may be due to a genetic condition. The "disease model" is becoming more popular these days among doctors.

    At any rate, the first step is in recognizing that you are, indeed, a "Wagnerholic." This is for your own good, and for the people you love.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-07-2019 at 16:46.

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  10. #37
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    Just got the Naxos Immortal Performances edition of Tristan with Melchior, Traubel, Thorborg, and Leinsdorf conducting at the Met in 1943. Except for a fair amount of loud coughing, it's astounding. Traubel is simply out of this world, perhaps even surpassing Flagstad in 1936 with Reiner. This is truly an immortal performance.

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  12. #38
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    I am reminded of Father M. Owen Lee, who writing about Tristan und Isolde shared this anecdote:

    "Some years ago a friend of mine went to see a performance of Tristan und Isolde at the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York, on 39th and Broadway. He sat alone in a box at what was by all reports a superlative performance and, as he put it himself, he suffered the torments of the damned. He thought Act I ear-splitting and intolerably long. Act II was occassionally quieter, but seemed even longer. And through both acts, he felt like that martyr in a medieval painting often mentioned in connection with Tristan - the unfortunate whose innards are slowly and painfully being extracted on a wheel. When the curtain rose on Act III, and my friend saw the tenor, who had already agonized through most of a long evening, sprawled on the stage delirious, while some melancholy pipe wailed interminably in the orchestra, he knew that he was in for at least another hour of the same tortures, and he fled the theatre."

    There is certainly something unique about Tristan, something vast and overwhelming that has been remarked upon by commentators ever since its creation.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    ^^^ The poor fellow had probably been told it was a medieval love story and was expecting something like Camelot.

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    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Of possible interest to Tristan fans:

    Felix Mottl
    ... leading the 100th performance of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. He suffered a heart attack in the second act and died in a hospital 11 days later. Oh, and he married his mistress on his deathbed. Make of that what you will.
    Joseph Keilberth
    In 1968, Keilberth, like Mottl, was in Munich conducting Tristan. And also, just like Mottl, he died doing what he loved.
    Story:
    https://www.wqxr.org/story/conductor...e-died-podium/
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Nov-08-2019 at 20:11.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  18. #41
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    Of possible interest to Tristan fans:

    Felix Mottl


    Joseph Keilberth


    Story:
    https://www.wqxr.org/story/conductor...e-died-podium/
    Never quite sure how much we should read into these deaths. Sinopoli died of a heart attack at the age of 54 while conducting Verdi's Aida. Does this have anything to do with Aida or the fact he had a weak heart?

  19. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Never quite sure how much we should read into these deaths. Sinopoli died of a heart attack at the age of 54 while conducting Verdi's Aida. Does this have anything to do with Aida or the fact he had a weak heart?
    Well, Tristan was premiered in Munich. The tenor who sang the premiere died (apparently of a rheumatic condition) two weeks later. Both Mottl and Keilberth were conducting the opera in Munich when they had heart attacks.

    It's fanciful, no doubt, to say that Tristan killed these people, but we might well be cautious about performing such a physically taxing and emotionally draining work in less than good health. Especially in Munich...

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  21. #43
    Senior Member Fritz Kobus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Well, Tristan was premiered in Munich. The tenor who sang the premiere died (apparently of a rheumatic condition) two weeks later. Both Mottl and Keilberth were conducting the opera in Munich when they had heart attacks.

    It's fanciful, no doubt, to say that Tristan killed these people, but we might well be cautious about performing such a physically taxing and emotionally draining work in less than good health. Especially in Munich...
    I wonder of Gustav Mahler ever conducted Tristan. His fear of writing a ninth symphony and with his heart palpations, one might guess not.
    Last edited by Fritz Kobus; Nov-09-2019 at 02:01.
    "All of Italian opera can be heard in [Bellini's] "Ah! non creda [mirarti]."
    --Renata Scotto in "Scotto, More Than a DIva."

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  23. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I wonder of Gustav Mahler ever conducted Tristan. His fear of writing a ninth symphony and with his heart palpations, one might guess not.
    Mahler apparently conducted the opera in Vienna (maybe more details are about?) there is info here about his annotated score which survives as discussed by Simon Rattle
    Source: http://www.metorchestramusicians.org...ahlers-tristan
    Last edited by Revitalized Classics; Nov-09-2019 at 02:09.

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  25. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fritz Kobus View Post
    I wonder of Gustav Mahler ever conducted Tristan.
    He absolutely did conduct it; in fact before Simon Rattle conducted the opera at the MET a couple of years ago he apparently studied a copy of the score that Mahler had made notes and observations on:

    RATTLE AT THE MET: I LEARNED MY TRISTAN TEMPI FROM MAHLER’S SCORE

    EDIT: I was beaten to it!
    Last edited by OperaChic; Nov-09-2019 at 02:12.

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