Fragments from the opera Tristan & Isolde by R. Wagner on the 155th anniversary of the opera first production

The opera "Tristan and Isolde" by Richard Wagner was staged and premiered on June 10, 1865.

The legend of Tristan and Isolde is of Celtic origin - it came from Ireland and gained great popularity in all countries of medieval Europe. Over the course of several centuries, the legend was transformed and, by the 12th century, turned into a Franco-Breton literary novel, then underwent many literary refinements and transformations, overgrown with details, novels by famous writers appeared, but the meaning of the legend remained unchanged - love is stronger than death.

However, Wagner interpreted the legend differently - he created a poem about poignant overmastering passion, which turned out to be stronger than reason, kinship obligations and a sense of duty. In accordance with the composer's plan, the opera is marked by the unity of dramatic expression, tremendous tension and tragic intensity of feelings.

Wagner was acquainted with the legend of Tristan and Isolde back in the 1840s, the conception of the opera arose in the autumn of 1854, and by August 1857, the composer wrote the text in a single impulse in just 3 weeks, for which he even interrupted work on the tetralogy "The Ring of the Nibelung". Then Wagner began composing music and completed the opera by 1859. The premiere took place in Munich on June 10, 1865.

Wagner considered “Tristan and Isolde” the best and favorite of his works, the creation of the opera was associated with an episode from the composer's biography as well, when he was in love with the German poetess Mathilde Wesendonck. He called his opera a monument to his unanswered love.

In this opera, the world for the first time was acquainted with musical drama, in which the orchestra played the major role. Through the developed system of keynotes, the composer comments each psychological and dramatic passage in the plot development. Wagner realized his idea of "endless melody", creating a very special style of arias, duets, quartets. This caused fierce criticism, which has not subsided until today.

Fragments from the opera “Tristan and Isolde” recorded from gramophone records from the museum Collection repository are in our Sound Library.

Richard Wagner biography is in the section Authors.