Thu November 17 | 7:30 PM
Tristan und Isolde
We continue our exploration of Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in Act II, paired with Lili Boulanger's miniature springtime-inspired symphony.TICKETS
November 17, 2022 7:30 PM
Tristan und Isolde
Program includes: An introduction to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde
L. Boulanger: D’un matin de printemps
Our three-year exploration of Richard Wagner’s operatic masterpiece continues with Act II. At once tender and tragic, this deeply personal love story changed the course of classical music, drama, and opera forever…and has only ever been performed in Oregon once, some 50 years ago. Prior to the complete Act II, we’ll hear French composer Lili Boulanger’s shimmering miniature about springtime, and Francesco will set the stage with a captivating examination of what makes Wagner’s music so moving.
ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE
On Monday, November 14, at 5 pm, join us for Symphony Happy Hour at First National Taphouse. No cost or concert ticket required to attend! Grab a drink and join Music Director Francesco Lecce-Chong to learn about the musical works and composers featured in our Tristan und Isolde Act II concert, plus enjoy a game of trivia for a chance to win some Symphony-themed swag and prizes! Drinks and snacks are available for purchase. Come early, come late, leave early, leave late – whatever works for you.
At 6:30 pm on concert night (Nov. 17), join us for our Guild Pre-Concert Talk in The Studio at the Hult Center. Francesco Lecce-Chong will chat with the evening's special guests and partners who have helped make this three-year project happen.
This concert will be broadcast on KWAX-FM 91.1 on Tuesday, December 6 at 1:00 PM. Broadcasts underwritten in part by Eugene Safe Storage.
- Listen to the below Spotify playlist, curated by Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong, for inspiration and insight into this exciting concert.
- Watch the below video of Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong introducing Tristan und Isolde Act II's offerings.
- Read our First-Timers Guide to brush up on orchestra vocabulary and find out what to expect from a concert at the Hult Center
- Tell us your love story (good or bad!) for a chance to win tickets to an upcoming concert!
- How does opera make you feel? Listen to our Spotify playlist and respond through visual art! See below for details.
Nina Warren, Isolde
Nina Warren is an internationally acclaimed artist known for her interpretations of the most demanding dramatic soprano repertoire. This is illustrated by her recent triumphant return to the Teatro Colón as Turandot where she also had debuted Brünnhilde in Die Walküre with Charles Dutoit and starred in Konig Kandaules(recorded on the Capriccio label). Further Wagnerian roles include Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung at the Teatro Petruzzelli, her MET debut as Gerhilde and then eight consecutive seasons there inclusive of the LePage Ring.
Her career highlights include: Turandot with Los Angeles Opera, Sinaloa Festival of the Arts Mexico, Teatro Colon and Köln, Minnie in La fanciulla del West, with Los Angeles Opera and Essen Opera, Marie in Wozzeck with San Diego Opera, Leonore in Fidelio in Essen, Bonn and Nice, Tosca with Teatro Municipal in Santiago and New York City Opera, Emilia Marty in The Makropolous Case at the Janáček Festival Brno and Köln, Kostelnička in Jenufa in Sao Paolo and Essen, Jonnie Spielt Auf with Köln Opera, Chrysothemis with Baltimore Opera, Schoenberg’s Erwartung with Canadian Opera, Lavinia in Mourning Becomes Elektra with Seattle Opera, Marie/Marietta in Die Tote Stadt in Köln and Spoleto, Senta in Frankfurt and Palm Beach, Salome in such theaters as Deutsche Oper Berlin, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dresden, Ghent, Antwerp, Trieste, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Opera Pacific, and Baltimore Opera. She reprised her world premiere roles in Tan Dun’s Marco Polo (recorded on Sony Classics) with the Bergen National Opera and made her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in The Passenger. Her orchestral collaborations include the Kölner Rundfunk Symphony in a live broadcast and the Royal Flemish Orchestra.
Roy C. Smith, Tristan
American tenor Roy Cornelius Smith has established himself among the ranks of the finest tenors of his generation through his voice of exceptional color and beauty, his compelling dramatic interpretations, and outstanding musicianship. He has already been heard on some of the world's great operatic stages including the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Salzburger Festspiele, Norwegian National Opera, Royal Danish Opera, and the New Israeli Opera. He has also appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice, Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, to name but a few.
During his tenure as an ensemble member with the Nationaltheater Mannheim, Mr. Smith appeared as Calaf, Cavaradossi, Don Jose, Sigmund in Der Ring an einem Abend, Pinkerton, Turiddu, Canio and Otello with Krassimira Stoyanova conducted by Dan Ettinger. He also premiered numerous new productions including Dick Johnson in Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West directed by Tilman Knabe, the title role in Don Carlo directed by Jens-Daniel Herzog, Max in Der Freischütz directed by Armin Holz, Hagenbach in La Wally directed by Tilman Knabe, Dionysus in The Bassarids by Henze directed by Frank Hilbrich, and Eléazar in La Juive directed by Peter Konwitschny.
Last season, he returned to the roster of the Metropolitan Opera as Des Grieux in Manon Lescaut and will return this season for Fidelio. He also performed Faust in Boito's Mefistofele with Teatro del Giglio di Lucca and returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin for performances of Calaf. This seasons schedule includes performances of Verdi's Messa da Requiem and Verdi's Aida in Mannheim and Boito's Mefistofele with Teatro Sociale di Rovigo. He also makes his debut in France as Eleazar in La Juive with the Opéra national du Rhin in Strasbourg and debuts with Opera Leipzig as Der Kaiser in Die Frau ohne Schatten.
Recent performances include Florestan in a new production of Fidelio directed by Markus Bothe and conducted by Julia Jones; Canio in I Pagliacci with the Norwegian National Opera and Opera Las Palmas; his debut with the Royal Danish Opera in Copenhagen where he sang Turiddu in Cavalleria Rusticana, directed by Kasper Holten and Canio in I Pagliacci, directed by Paul Curran under the baton of Stefano Ranzani; Dick Johnson in La Fanciulla del West with Lyric Opera of Chicago opposite Deborah Voigt, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; the title role in Andrea Chenier at the Bregenzer Festspiele; Des Grieux in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at Oper Graz; Calaf in Turandot with New Orleans Opera opposite Lise Lindstrom and Deutsche Oper Berlin opposite Maria Guleghina; Dick Johnson in La fanciulla del West with Nashville Opera; Haman in Esther with New York City Opera; Radames in Aida with Opera Birmingham, Erik in Der fliegende Holländer with New Orleans Opera, and Pollione in Norma at the Chautauqua Institution. A past winner of the New York Metropolitan Opera Auditions, his international debut occurred in 1998 at the prestigious Salzburger Festspiele, where he sang Fatty, the Bookkeeper, in Kurt Weill's Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. (Available on Kultur DVD/Video with Catherine Malfitano and Dame Gwyneth Jones, conducted by Dennis Russell Davies). Later that same season he reprised the role in English for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Mr. Smith hails from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and received both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music from the University of Tennessee and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the American Conservatory of Music and currently resides in Vienna Austria.
Learn more about additional cast members
Dramatic mezzo-soprano Ola Rafalo, has been called a “vocal powerhouse,” and “the next Cossotto.” She has earned critical acclaim in a variety of roles and venues with her “voluptuous,” “deep contralto sound” and mesmerizing acting. Rafalo has performed Azucena in Il Trovatore, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Fenena in Nabucco, as Amneris in Aïda, and Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera. Her most celebrated role is Carmen, which she has sung with Syracuse Opera, the Lyric Orchestra, Gulfshore Opera, New Jersey Verismo Opera, and highlights with the Pacific Symphony. Other roles performed include Charlotte in Werther, Fricka in Die Walküre, and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana. She has been featured at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Opera Tampa, Springfield Symphony, Orlando Opera, Baltimore Lyric, Opera Carolina, Teatro Curci di Barletta, Paderewski Symphony, and Chicago Opera Theater.
Postponed appearances from 2020 include her debut with the Israel Philharmonic as Emilia in Verdi’s Otello under Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, followed by the role of Mamma Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana at Teatro Voghera, and concerts in Sirmione Italy for the Maria Callas Festival, as the winner of the Maria Callas prize at the Giulio Fregosi competition. Upcoming engagements include a debut at the Teatro di Bibiena in Mantova, Beethoven Ninth with the Evanston Symphony, and the Mother/Chinese Tea Cup/Dragonfly in L’enfant et les Sortileges with Florentine Opera. Also upcoming, Rafalo will sing the role of Santuzza in Japan, in the world premiere of a newly discovered unabridged version of Mascagni’s masterpiece, Cavalleria Rusticana.
Gary Simpson is a Metropolitan Opera Principal Artist, SAG/AFTRA member, and an Actors Equity and AGMA member. Simpson sang in the new production of The Merry Widow with Renée Fleming at the Metropolitan Opera during the 2015 season, directed by Susan Stroman. He returned in 2017/18 to the Metropolitan Opera to again perform the role of Pritschisch in The Merry Widow with Susan Graham as The Widow. Simpson can be seen as a recurring character, Hobert Showalter, in the Cinemax show The Knick, directed by Steven Soderbergh.
In 2021, Simpson reprised the role of Dulcamara with Opera Maine. He also sang Dulcamara in 2019 with the Indianapolis Opera. Simpson sang Gianna Schicchi with the LA Opera and as Artist in Residence with Odessa College’s production of Gianni Schicchi in April of 2018. He sang the American premier of the opera Matsukaze in the role of The Monk at the Spoleto Festival. Simpson also performed The Monk at the Lincoln Center Festival.
He has sung Miguel de Cervantes from Man of La Mancha multiple times as well as Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Simpson performed with Phillip Bosco for the Shakespeare Marathon with the New York Shakespeare Festival, singing the Falstaff aria. Simpson sang Scarpia in Tosca at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Holländer in Der fliegende Holländer, his fifth production, in Cape Town, South Africa. He sang Holländer at the BNO, Bucharesti Romania; the Statni Opera, Prague; and the Manaus Opera Festival, Brazil, directed by Christoph Schlingensief, as well as with the Hawaii Opera Theater.
Simpson sang at Carnegie Hall with the Opera Orchestra of New York as Roger in Verdi’s Jerusalem and as St. Brie in Les Huguenots, both available on FIORI Records. He sang Pizzaro in Beethoven’s Fidelio at the summer Musikfest in Frankfurt, and Sweeney in Sweeney Todd at the Globe Theater in Odessa Texas, Nevada Opera, and Augusta Opera. Simpson sang Scarpia in Tosca and Amfortas in Parsifal with Seattle Opera. Simpson has sung Iago in Verdi’s Otello with the Kalamazoo Symphony, Arizona Opera, Minnesota Opera, Hawaii Opera Theater, The Otello Project, and the Opera Orchestra of New York.
Simpson has been invited to act and sing in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Spain. Simpson worked for two seasons as a firefighter for the US Forest Service, Payette Forest, in New Meadows, Idaho. A proud graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts, Simpson makes his home in Knoxville, Tennessee.
For more than 20 years, Greg Fortner’s work in the arts, location-based entertainment, and technology has been defined by a drive to create live experiences that leave a lasting impression on those they serve.
As a creative director, Fortner has led more than 30 large-scale theatrical productions for the Walt Disney Company, the New National Theater of Tokyo, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Metropolitan Opera, the Teatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro, and the San Francisco and Los Angeles Operas, as well as numerous other companies throughout Europe and the U.S. This October, he will travel to Milan, Italy, to make his La Scala Opera debut. Throughout his career, he has had the good fortune to collaborate with, and learn from, such masters of their craft as Robert Altman, Peter Stein, Robert LePage, Michael Grandage, Tony Kushner, Maurice Sendak, and artist David Hockney.
As a serial entrepreneur, Fortner has also won recognition for his creative work in user experience design for both location-based entertainment and virtual product design. He was named an emerging leader by the New Media Consortium for his work on a remote platform that would give high school students virtual control over real science laboratory equipment and is currently a partner in a new live children’s play experience set to open this summer in Los Angeles. In addition, Fortner is an executive at a growth-stage technology company which he helped to build into a two-time recipient of both the Frost and Sullivan Best Practices award and Forbes Best Startup Employer award.
Fortner holds both a BA in music and an MBA from the University of Michigan and currently lives in Eugene, Oregon, with his wife Heather, son Dashiell, and daughter Adelina. He is so grateful for their love and support as he continues to tilt at windmills. Fortner also wants to thank the Eugene community for the warm welcome they have shown him and his family since moving here in 2018.
Learn more about Act I
The sonic identity of Tristan und Isolde begins immediately in its Prelude with a quiet line by the cellos, who leap up an interval, and slither down chromatically into a dissonant chord with the woodwinds. Particularly effective in these opening measures is Wagner’s use of silence — even when sound is not present, tension is building. The orchestral introduction feels as though it is constantly building, heading towards a resolution that it never reaches. We will hear this music again at the end of this first Act.
The first scene opens on a ship, with a sailor’s song. Isolde and her handmaiden Brangäne are being transported by Tristan to be married to his uncle, King Marke of Cornwall. Isolde is furious at the loss of control of her own fate, particularly directed towards Tristan who has refused to interact with her during the journey. Isolde’s bursts of anger are heard in blaring brass and trembling strings, with interludes of calmer music as Brangäne attempts to console her.
We meet Tristan, along with his faithful but nasty servant Kurwenal. Isolde sends Brangäne to instruct Tristan to come to her, an order he ignores. Kurwenal mocks Isolde with the death of her fiancée, Morold, who was killed by Tristan. Kurwenal’s indecent boastfulness is underscored by the rustic nature of the music, with plucking strings and bouncing brass. The servant’s gleeful mocking of Isolde is taken up by the entire crew of the ship, with the men’s chorus joining in, laughing and celebrating their hero Tristan. Brangäne returns to Isolde who, trembling with rage, recounts the story of how a wounded Tristan, disguised as a man named “Tantris,” came to her to be healed and how she recognized him as the killer of her betrothed. She took up his sword, intending to avenge Morold, but is stopped as Tristan looks into her eyes. As she recounts the story, we hear the music transform from anger to hints of music from the Prelude, now filled with longing. Isolde allows Tristan to leave with the promise that he will never come back, a promise he breaks when he returns to deliver Isolde to his uncle. She is snapped back to reality, regretting that she allowed the sword to drop and did not slay Tristan. Brangäne, continuing her attempts to console her mistress, reminds her of magic potions Isolde’s mother made, suggesting that a love potion could bring Tristan over to her side. To Brangäne’s horror, Isolde chooses the death potion instead.
Kurwenal appears, commanding the women to prepare for the voyage to end. Isolde says she will not leave the ship and meet the King unless Tristan agrees to meet with her, drink atonement, and ask for her forgiveness for breaking his promise. As Tristan arrives, Isolde orders Brangäne to prepare the death potion, ignoring the handmaiden’s protestations. A music interlude ensues as Tristan approaches — there is a sense of impending doom in the foreboding sound of the horns and trombones. Hints of the Prelude’s music are heard in the strings.
Upon his arrival, Isolde tells Tristan that she saw through his disguise as “Tantris” and demands revenge for his treachery. Tristan offers her his sword, inviting her to kill him. Isolde refuses, insisting he must drink atonement and that doing so will cleanse him of any guilt. Tension builds as offstage sailors’ voices announce that the journey is almost at an end. Tristan drinks half of the potion and Isolde drinks the rest, but instead of bringing death, the two are consumed by rapturous love for each other. The music from the Prelude makes its full return as the potion’s effects consume the two characters, building into a frenzy. At the same moment, Kurwenal and the sailors announce the arrival of King Marke. Isolde asks Brangäne which potion she prepared, who confesses that in her desperation, she switched out the death potion for a love potion.
SCORED: In addition to the cast of vocalists, scored for three flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, three clarinets including bass clarinet, three bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones including bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings, as well as an off-stage banda of three trumpets and three trombones.
HISTORY: This is the first complete performance of Act I. The Prelude and Liebestod were first performed in January 1982 under the direction of William McGlaughlin and last performed in October 1999 under the direction of Miguel Harth-Bedoya.
DURATION: Approximately 75 minutes.
Tristan und Isolde Act II Program Notes
Eugene Symphony continues its three-year project exploring Richard Wagner’s groundbreaking Tristan und Isolde, a music drama that changed the course of classical music, drama, and opera. The program opens with thoughts from Music Director & Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong on Wagner’s history-altering work. Lili Boulanger’s effervescent D’un matin de printemps, an ode to spring and life, brings a breath of fresh air.
D’UN MATIN DE PRINTEMPS
Lili Boulanger (1893–1918)
DURATION: Approximately five minutes
French composer Lili Boulanger follows in the footsteps of Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert—all composers who displayed extraordinary musical talent and craft from a young age, but passed away before being able to live a full life. Born in 1893 to a musical family in Paris, Boulanger battled poor health from the age of two that would stay with her for the remainder of her short life.
Music was her saving grace. Showing a deep passion for it, she studied theory and organ performance as a young child and became proficient at playing the piano, violin, cello, harp, and as a vocalist. She gained entry to the Paris Conservatory at the age of 19 to study composition and in 1913, she became the winner of Prix de Rome, a highly competitive residency and study grant. She was the first woman to receive the prize and was featured in international press headlines.
D’un matin de printemps (Of a Spring Morning) was composed in the spring of 1917, originally as a piece for violin and piano. She adapted the work into various versions, first for piano trio later that same year and finally for an orchestra in 1918, the year of her passing at age 25. From its first notes, the work is full of energy and life, beginning with rhythmic pulse in the strings and percussion and the introduction of a playful theme in the flute, playing in its lower register. The energy dissipates and leads into a masterclass of French Impressionism, a sonic painting of fantastically swirling harmonies. The energy resumes and the piece ends with a thrilling build, a harp sliding downwards, and a final unison note.
SCORED: This work is scored for three flutes, piccolo, three oboes, English horn, three clarinets including bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, percussion, harp, celesta, and strings.
HISTORY: This is the first Eugene Symphony performance.
TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, ACT II
Richard Wagner (1813–1883)
DURATION: Approximately 75 minutes
Tristan und Isolde is a work whose impact and controversial nature matches that of its creator. Like Wagner, the music drama has had the capability of drawing extreme reactions from those who have encountered it. Clara Schumann, a contemporary of Wagner and a leading pianist and composer, wrote of it as, “… the most repugnant thing I have ever seen or heard in my life… in which every feeling of decency is violated and by which not only the public but even musicians seem to be enchanted — that is the saddest thing I have ever experienced in my artistic life…”
After seeing a performance of it in 1933, British composer Benjamin Britten would record in his diary, “Dwarfs every other creation save perhaps [Beethoven’s] Ninth. The glorious shape of the whole, the perfect orchestration: sublime idea of it and the gigantic realisation of the idea. He is master of us all.”
Whether positively or negatively, experiencing Tristan und Isolde makes the heart race, eyes widen, and stomach drop.
The work’s story is based on the ancient Tristan legend (likely of Celtic origin), specifically the telling by Gottfried von Strassburg, an author of 11th-century Germany. Another source of inspiration were the events of Wagner’s own life—the composer had participated in the failed May Revolution in 1849 and, in order to avoid arrest, was forced to flee Dresden and took refuge in Zürich.
While there, he befriended a retired silk merchant, Otto Wesendonck, who supported Wagner for several years, relieving the composer of financial concerns and allowing him to dedicate his time to composition and performing his music around Europe. While living on the Wesendonck estate in 1857, a love affair developed between Wagner (a married man) and Wesendonck’s wife, Mathilde.
That year, Wagner set aside work on what would become his fabled Ring cycle in order to begin working on Tristan und Isolde, which he completed two years later in 1859. Every aspect of the work, including its poetry, music, orchestration, and story, was laid by the composer’s hand.
It is difficult to fully capture the impact of the opera, not only on music but on art as a whole. Before this, composers had followed rules grounded in logic and carefully maintained relationships between tonal centers. Tristan und Isolde completely disregarded these rules, which had been followed for hundreds of years, laying the foundation for the dissonant and atonal music of the 20th-century.
The result is a feeling of constant striving that never reaches a resolution, conveying the psychological state of the two titular characters and their unfulfilled desire for each other. The demands upon the singers and their voices were unprecedented, making these roles some of the most difficult to execute in all of operatic canon.
Beyond music, it was greatly influential in the work of theater, poetry, and visual art into the late 19th and 20th centuries. Author Alex Ross describes Tristan und Isolde as having, “set the course for an avant-garde art of dream logic, mental intoxication, formless form, limitless desire.”
It is difficult to point to a singular work that changed the course of western classical music more than Tristan und Isolde. Whether this change was for the better or for the worse depends upon whom you ask. Even without a knowledge of music and its history, the gravity and chaos of its presence is undeniable—one only needs to listen.
Following their arrival at the court of King Marke, the unknowing consumption of the love potion, and their subsequent rapturous duet, Tristan and Isolde plan a secret rendezvous in the garden of the castle. The Prelude to the second act is impatient, featuring driving rhythms and sweeping melodies of uncontrollable longing—the lovers’ yearning for each other has intensified. Far-off horns signal the departure of the King and his court on a hunting trip and Isolde excitedly observes how distant they sound already, knowing that her meeting with Tristan is near approaching. Her handmaiden Brangäne contradicts her, nervously stating that she can still hear the horns clearly. Each observes how the others’ emotions are clouding their ability to perceive reality clearly.
Brangäne warns Isolde that her restlessness to see Tristan has blinded her to the possibility of spies. A possible culprit, she warns, is Melot, a knight in the service of King Marke and a supposed friend of Tristan’s. Brangäne suspiciously points out the convenience and speed with which this royal hunt was organized, implying that it is a trap to catch Isolde and Tristan in the act. Isolde brushes aside Brangäne’s concerns and the music surges as her excitement builds. She instructs the handmaiden to extinguish the torch in the garden, the predetermined signal for Tristan to approach. Brangäne objects, bemoaning her decision to switch the death potion originally requested by Isolde for the love potion. Isolde states that the switching of the potions was the work of the Love Spirit; as she sings, a new theme to represent the Spirit is introduced, one that Wagner would later use again to represent love in his Ring cycle.
Isolde extinguishes the flame and the music dies as darkness envelops the garden. Slowly, the music begins to build again, signaling Isolde’s impatience and Tristan’s approach. The music approaches a frenzy until Tristan finally arrives and the two greet each other with a fervor and an ecstasy that is almost disturbing. They breathlessly speak to each other, sometimes alternating and at other times overlapping, exclaiming their passion for one another. They praise the darkness and the security it affords them to be with each other, condemning the light and the false appearances they have needed to maintain in it.
Traditionally in Western classical art, light has represented knowledge and enlightenment, while darkness has been associated with ignorance. The lovers’ praise of darkness and ignorance and shunning of light and truth draws a direct line between their passion and their madness. Brangäne’s distant voice warns that it will be daylight soon, but Tristan and Isolde are oblivious to the danger. They begin to speak of death and the union it would allow them to have, introducing the idea and the theme of the Liebestod, or Love-Death, that will manifest itself at the end of the opera.
The music builds and is interrupted by the entrance of Tristan’s servant, Kurwenal, as he shouts a warning before the King and his men burst in, led by Melot. Rather than displaying anger, King Marke is moved, albeit disturbed at what he has witnessed. Singing of Tristan’s loyalty and friendship, the King laments that it was Tristan himself who urged him to marry Isolde. The King is accompanied by a bass clarinet, the instrument that will be associated with him in the story. He asks Tristan how he could betray him in this way, but Tristan has no answer. Tristan sings that he is no longer of this world, no longer bound by honor, duty, or any of the earthly obligations he once felt indebted to — now, there is only love and Isolde. He invites Isolde to join him, to escape into the world of darkness, which she accepts. Furious at this betrayal, Melot draws his sword. Tristan mocks him, implying that Melot’s anger is not due to fidelity to the King, but because Melot wishes to have Isolde for himself. Tristan draws his own sword, but allows himself to be wounded. The music comes to a thunderous and tragic close as he collapses to the ground and Isolde looks on in despair.
SCORED: In addition to the cast of vocalists, scored for three flutes, piccolo, two oboes, English horn, three clarinets including bass clarinet, three bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones including bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion, harp, and strings.
HISTORY: This is the first complete performance of Act II by Eugene Symphony. The Prelude and Liebestod were first performed in January 1982 under the direction of William McGlaughlin and last performed in October 1999 under the direction of Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Act I was performed in April 2022 under the direction of Francesco Lecce-Chong.
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LOCATION: Hult Center for the Performing Arts
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