|This is my post from this week's Once or Twice a Fortnight.|
In June 2016, Hugo Shirley wrote a very interesting article for Gramophone titled “The opera that changed music”. The article opens with quotes from Alma Mahler, Clara Schumann and Edward Elgar as they each react to Wagner's Tristan und Isolde; a quote from one of Grieg’s pen pals is especially “graphic”:
The Internet is littered with resources and authoritative (as well as authoritative-sounding) articles regarding Tristan, and I would hate to add more… To me, Tristan is in many ways a “regular day in the office” for Wagner: the creative convergence of Wagner’s devotion to the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, the soap-opera that is his own love life and musical exploration that takes him away from established musical convention.
The re-discovery of mediaeval Germanic poetry, including Gottfried von Strassburg's version of Tristan, the Nibelungenlied and Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, left a large impact on the German Romantic movements during the mid-19th century. Again, we note here subject matter that Wagner has mined to form the core of his epic operas.
Tristan took five years to compose with the bulk of the work between 1857 and 1859. Sections of the opera and libretto were composed in Switzerland and Italy, as Wagner’s 20-year marriage was disintegrating in large part because of his relationship with German poet and author Mathilde Wesendonck , the wife of a wealthy silk trader. (Wagner set five songs to her words, called the Wesendonck Lieder, in the same time period).
Staging an opera isn’t easy – and it is even less so when it comes to a Wagner opera! The completed work remained unstaged for several years and it’s only after King Ludwig II of Bavaria became Wagner’s sponsor that enough resources were secured to mount the premiere of Tristan und Isolde. Hans von Bülow was chosen to conduct the production at the Nationaltheater in Munich. This of course is happening at the time Wagner was having an affair with his wife Cosima which resulted in a daughter – Isolde – born about two months before the premiere on 10 June 1865.
The next production of Tristan was in Weimar in 1874. Wagner himself supervised another production of Tristan in Berlin in March 1876, but the opera was only performed at the Bayreuth Festival after his death; Cosima (now his widow) oversaw this widely acclaimed production in 1886.
Today’s 1953 performance is also from the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth. In a review by Webster Forrest for wagnerdiscography.com, he writes:
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90
music drama in three acts
German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Strassburg.
Tristan - Ramón Vinay
Isolde - Astrid Varnay
Brangäne - Ira Malaniuk
Kurwenal - Gustav Neidlinger
Marke - Ludwig Weber
Melot - Hasso Eschert
Ein Hirt - Gerhard Stolze
Ein Seemann - Gene Tobin
Ein Steuermann - Theo Adam
Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Conductor: Eugen Jochum
July 30, 1953 (Live recording)
INFO - http://www.wagnerdiscography.com/rev...ri53jochum.htm
SOURCE - https://www.liberliber.it/online/aut...an-und-isolde/
Synopsis - http://www.opera-arias.com/wagner/tr...olde/synopsis/
Libretto - http://www.opera-arias.com/wagner/tr...olde/libretto/
Internet Archive URLs
Act 1 - https://archive.org/details/wagner_tristan_je_01_einlei_etc
Act 2 - https://archive.org/details/wagner_tristan_je_41_mir_di_etc
Act 3 - https://archive.org/details/wagner_tristan_je_51_muss_i_etc