tristan & isolde

"Der Tod durch Liebesnot"(cf. Richard Wagner)

According to Wagner, Tristan, which he created in Munich in 1865, was the greatest tragedy he had adapted. The "action" unfolds entirely in the inner self of the protagonists. Wagner emphasised that the course of the drama is determined solely by the spiritual life of the two characters. From the perspective of music history, Tristan is considered to have been a groundbreaking work, laying the foundations for "new music".
Synopsis: Tristan, the nephew of King Mark, has been sent to Ireland to escort Isolde, daughter of the King of Ireland and Mark's intended bride, back to Cornwall. But the unwilling bride loves Tristan, and decides to kill herself and Tristan with a poison draught. However, Isolde's maid secretly changes the poison for a love potion. Convinced that they are committing suicide, Tristan and Isolde drink the potion and, in the face of supposed death, confess their mutual love....


"Ich kehre jetzt zu Tristan zurück, um an ihm die tiefe Kunst des tönenden Schweigens für mich zu Dir sprechen zu lassen." (Richard Wagner aan Mathilde Wesendonck in 1858.)

Hans Meyer says about this "tönende Schweigen" that "Liebesnot lies hidden behind silence. One keeps silent to be able to live on: in the apparent hatred of Isolde, in Tristan's stubborn ambition. And when this silence is broken, in a first embrace, in a night of love, then a conversation emerges. But only because one expects death, eternal silence. From keeping silent, via a seemingly liberating conversation, to true silence or death: this is the great but very unclassical dramatic movement on which Wagner's tragedy rests... When the actual dialogue between the lovers takes place, it does not strive towards community of the self and the other, but towards surrender of the self to the other self. The replies become interchangeable... The night does not lead to truth but to a process of "self-sacrifice". That is how Richard Wagner's "tiefe Kunst des Tönenden Schweigens" is to be understood in reality."