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Thread: Starben or Stürben?

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Default Starben or Stürben?

    OK, random question.
    I've listened to samples of the Act II duet of Tristan und Isolde from many recordings. I've noticed that whatever tenor is playing Tristan either says, "So starben wir" or "So stürben wir", whereas the singer playing Isolde always seems to say "So stürben wir". Why is this line not consistently sung among different Tristans? Which one is correct - starben or stürben?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    As far as I know, no one has the answer to this puzzle. "Sterben" is the German verb meaning "to die." Starben" is past tense, "stürben" is conditional, and the discrepancy is found in the published score. The debate is over whether it's a mistake or whether Tristan's use of the past tense indicates that he already sees himself as having passed on to the next world, while Isolde is more of a realist.

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    As far as I know, no one has the answer to this puzzle. "Sterben" is the German verb meaning "to die." Starben" is past tense, "stürben" is conditional, and the discrepancy is found in the published score. The debate is over whether it's a mistake or whether Tristan's use of the past tense indicates that he already sees himself as having passed on to the next world, while Isolde is more of a realist.
    The score I found on IMSLP says "starben". Do you mean different editions of the score use different words?

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    I don't know what various editions say. I only know that Tristan usually says "starben" and Isolde usually says "stürben," and as far as I know it's always been this way.

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Well, I don't know. I would think it should be "starben" if that's what the score says, but in all of these recordings, the singer for Tristan says "stürben" or maybe even "sterben", but definitely not "starben":

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    The one that surprised me the most was the Solti recording. You'd think if it is supposed to be "starben" that Solti would have corrected it considering how much of a perfectionist he was. Of course, Brangäne doesn't scream at the end of the duet like she's supposed to in the Solti recording. I thought I read that Solti was disappointed in his Tristan und Isolde recording. So maybe he was sloppy or something.

    Strangely, the libretto that came with my Karajan CD says "stürben" for Tristan, but Vickers actually does say "starben". So, I don't know. I'm very confused.

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    Could it not be that those Tristan's who sing 'starben' as 'stürben' are just incredibly posh? (This joke possibly only works if you are British!)

    Adriesba, it seems that "starben" is in the published score, but some think that both should sing "stürben" and so some tenors and CD libretti correct what they perceive as a mistake.

    Was Wagner's original manuscript lost in WWII (and therefore we can't check what Wagner actually wrote)?

    N.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    My reading over the years tells me that the difference between Tristan's and Isolde's choices of verb tense has long been a puzzle, suggesting that it dates back to the original published score. We need to know what's in the manuscript. You can apparently get a deluxe facsimile of it for less than a thousand dollars, if it's still available.

    https://www.omifacsimiles.com/brochu...r_tristan.html

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    My reading over the years tells me that the difference between Tristan's and Isolde's choices of verb tense has long been a puzzle, suggesting that it dates back to the original published score. We need to know what's in the manuscript. You can apparently get a deluxe facsimile of it for less than a thousand dollars, if it's still available.

    https://www.omifacsimiles.com/brochu...r_tristan.html
    You can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Tristan-Isold.../dp/3761822707

    That's a lot just to answer my question though.

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Sometimes Solti's opera recordings have information on how the recording was made. Perhaps if I bought it I could read it and understand why their Tristan doesn't say "starben" or why Brangäne doesn't scream at the end of the duet. Of course, if I buy another Tristan und Isolde recording, I'd rather buy the classic Böhm recording.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adriesba View Post
    Sometimes Solti's opera recordings have information on how the recording was made. Perhaps if I bought it I could read it and understand why their Tristan doesn't say "starben" or why Brangäne doesn't scream at the end of the duet. Of course, if I buy another Tristan und Isolde recording, I'd rather buy the classic Böhm recording.
    Wise choice. .............

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    Quote Originally Posted by adriesba View Post
    Sometimes Solti's opera recordings have information on how the recording was made. Perhaps if I bought it I could read it and understand why their Tristan doesn't say "starben" or why Brangäne doesn't scream at the end of the duet. Of course, if I buy another Tristan und Isolde recording, I'd rather buy the classic Böhm recording.
    Böhm's is wonderful!

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Conte View Post

    Adriesba, it seems that "starben" is in the published score, but some think that both should sing "stürben" and so some tenors and CD libretti correct what they perceive as a mistake.

    N.
    Tristen sings starben too many times for it to have been a careless error. Can't understand singers and conductors who think that they know better than the composer!!
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    Tristen sings starben too many times for it to have been a careless error.
    Where else does he use the past tense of "sterben"? I can't find any examples.

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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    I’m using the Eulenburg miniature score and I can’t find Tristan using anything other than starben, sturb’ and sturbe. Also I thought I’d edited my previous post to say that curiously I can’t find any use of sturben in modern German. It appears that modern usage is sterben.
    "...it is said that first your heart sings, then you play. I think if it is not like that, then it is only just combination of notes, isn't it? " - Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Master of the Sitar.

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    Senior Member adriesba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barbebleu View Post
    I’m using the Eulenburg miniature score and I can’t find Tristan using anything other than starben, sturb’ and sturbe. Also I thought I’d edited my previous post to say that curiously I can’t find any use of sturben in modern German. It appears that modern usage is sterben.
    Wait, there are scores where he says something other than "starben"?

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