Richard Wagner defined a new concept of amorous passion: death from love. The entrancing tale of Tristan and Isolde provides an excuse for exalting Romantic and courtly love. Only beyond death can a love which projects itself into eternity come to fruition.
Tristan und Isolde (Munich 1865), a pivotal point in the history of present-day music, was based on a medieval poem by Gottfried von Strassburg about the tragic love story of Tristan and Isolde. Wagner turned it into a forceful expression of indomitable passion, which prevails over the lovers' own wills, the rules of morality and divine law and finds fulfilment only in death. He used a new type of fiercely chromatic music, at the outer limits of tonality. The protagonists' passion is kindled by the love potion that Isolde gives to Tristan, believing it to be poison.
Music drama in three acts. Libretto by the composer, based on a medieval Breton legend as related by Gottfried von Strassburg (13th century). Music by Richard Wagner. First performed on 10 June 1865 at the Munich Court Theatre. First performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu on 8 November 1899.