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Tristan ja Isolde

Richard Wagner
April 3rd, 2022 in the Grand Building of the Vanemuine

Composer and author of the libretto Richard Wagner
Musical director and conductor Risto Joost
Director Liis Kolle
Stage designer René Jõhve, Lilja Blumenfeld, Liis Kolle
Costumes Lilja Blumenfeld
Soloists Mati Turi, Aile Assony, Karmen Puis, Atlan Karp, Priit Volmer, Simo Breede, Taavi Tampu, Oliver Kuusik, Rasmus Kull
The male group of the Vanemuine Opera Choir and the Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra

As one of the most famous couples from medieval European legends, Tristan and Isolde have inspired writers, artists, theatre and film makers already for nearly a thousand years. The Irish princess Isolde and the heroic knight Tristan feel a magical attraction towards each other, but they meet when Tristan has helped his stepfather the King of Cornwall conquer Isolde’s homeland and killed her fiancé. Tristan is seriously wounded during this ordeal and has himself brought under a pseudonym to Isolde, but she still recognizes him and tries to kill the enemy. However, Isolde quickly abandons this plan as she falls in love with him. As gratitude for his recovery, Tristan pledges eternal faithfulness to her.

However, Tristan feels unworthy of Isolde and goes to King Marke to ask for her hand in marriage. Thus, Isolde would become the queen of the United Kingdom of Cornwall and Ireland. Isolde sees this as a betrayal and together with Tristan they decide to drink poison. Maid Brangäne, terrified to learn of this plan, replaces the poison with a love potion – Tristan and Isolde drink from the chalice and are thus bound by a love that is even stronger than death.

This opera by Wagner, embarced by unrequited love and inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy of pessimism, was premiered in München in 1865. Opera director Liis Kolle debuted at the Vanemuine Theatre in 2002 and is returning now to stage an opera by Wagner for the first time in the history of the Vanemuine Theatre.

The world of love potions and medieval knights may seem distant and irrelevant to us, and yet even today, we are willing to give up love for honour, duty or someone else’s benefit in order to do good, the result being… Tristan and Isolde yield to their love only when they believe they are bewitched and unable to stop the course of events. But do we always need a love potion for that?
– Director Liis Kolle