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Opera Abbreviated: Tristan und Isolde

The Metropolitan Opera
The ill-fated lovers, Tristan and Isolde, from the Metropolitan Opera's newest production of Wagner's iconic tragedy.

The Metropolitan Opera begins a new season of live in HD transmissions from the Met stage in New York to cinemas worldwide with their new production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, Saturday October 8th at noon.

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the new staging by Marius Trelinski, with Nina Stemme and Stuart Skelton in the title roles.

Have a listen:

It's no exaggeration to say that music became sexualized with Tristan und Isolde. What had been representational became all-involving and erotic, as the music surged and bled and refused to cadence, moving on without resolution until the final liebestod,  or love-death,  at the end of the opera.

So intense are the music and  drama that the first Tristan, tenor Ludwig Schnoor von Carolsfeld, died one week after the opera's premiere in 1865. His wife Malvina sang Isolde. She lived another forty years. Go figure.

A generation later in New York, soprano Olive Fremstad ran to the edge of the stage during a rehearsal of Tristan and cried to the conductor, "I beg you stop maestro! It is too much! Let us go no further!"

Whether you find it erotic, beautiful passionate and/or long, a fine production of Tristan und Isolde with the magnificent Metropolitan Opera orchestra is an occasion to savor. Look for me on Saturday!

Christopher Purdy is Classical 101's early morning host, 7-10 a.m. weekdays. He is host and producer of Front Row Center – Classical 101’s weekly celebration of Opera and more – as well as Music in Mid-Ohio, Concerts at Ohio State, and the Columbus Symphony broadcast series. He is the regular pre-concert speaker for Columbus Symphony performances in the Ohio Theater.