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Important years in Richard Wagner's life

1813 born in Leipzig
1834 Die Feen completed
1843 Holländer premiere
1845 Tannhäuser premiere
1850 Lohengrin premiere
1852 text of Rheingold and Walküre
1854 Das Rheingold completed
1856 Die Walküre completed
1859 Tristan completed
1865 Tristan premiere in Munich
1868 Meistersinger premiere
1869 Das Rheingold premiere
1870 Die Walküre premiere
1871 Siegfried completed
1874 Götterdämmerung completed
1876 First Festival in Bayreuth
1882 Parsifal premiere
1883 Wagner dies in Venice


Tristan und Isolde

Wagner finished the music of Tristan und Isolde in 1859. Tristan und Isolde had its premiere at the Königliches Hof- und Nationaltheater on 10 June 1865.

Waltraud Meier and Jon Fredric West as Isolde and Tristan

In the tenor Ludwig Schnorr Wagner found his ideal Tristan. Schnorr died only two weeks after the premiere. Wagner declared that he never would allow the opera to be performed again. The next time Tristan und Isolde was produced was in 1876 in Berlin. The first performance of Tristan und Isolde in Bayreuth was in 1886.

Tristan und Isolde was produced in the following cities the first years after the world premiere in 1865

1876 Berlin
1882 London
1883 Wien
1886 Praha and
Bayreuth Festival (Felix Mottl)
See all those who have conducted Tristan at Bayreuth here
1903 Wien (Gustav Mahler)
1909 Petersburg



Said about Tristan und Isolde

"I fear the opera will be banned – unless the whole thing is parodied in a bad performance –: only mediocre performances can save me! Perfectly good ones will be bound to drive people mad, – I cannot imagine it otherwise."
Richard Wagner to Mathilde Wesendonck

My great love is Tristan und Isolde, and for that Wagner will have his place in the history of European culture because there he drops all his ideological bullshit, and all his dangerous sides. And finally he is really concentrating on his music and his poetry. And here he develops all his greatness. There is the Wagner that I am looking for.
Gottfried Wagner, TV documentary

"Tristan is not about 'being', it’s about 'becoming'. And it’s not an opera about love, but about death. The fear of death. This is the motor of the opera. There’s nothing more democratic than death."
Daniel Barenboim before his Met debut with Tristan und Isolde


Tristan und Isolde Timings (Complete with no cuts)

3.38 Böhm, Bayreuth, 1966 (DGG, CD)
3.44 Knappertsbusch, Munich, 1950
3.49 Carlos Kleiber, Bayreuth, 1974 (CD)
3.55 Furtwängler, Bayreuth, 1931
4.04 Mottl, Bayreuth, 1886
4.11 Toscanini, Bayreuth, 1930
4.15 Furtwängler, London, 1952
4.26 Bernstein, Munich, 1981 (Philips, CD)

Sources: Jonathan Brown: Great Wagner Conductors, Per-Erik Skramstad



Famous quotes from Tristan und Isolde


Mild und leise, wie er lächelt...


Singing Isolde

"Singing Isolde requires a sort of state of being. You have to enter the Tristan und Isolde world completely. You have to give it 100% all the time. It's a big journey. It's a marathon."
Nina Stemme (The Guardian)

"You have to work yourself up into a lather at the start. But other times it's like flying. It's my favourite Wagner role, but you have to know what you're doing. You can blast yourself into bits in the first act and have nothing left for the third. It's very varied. It's like owning a huge chest of drawers and opening the one you need at each different stage."
Anne Evans (The Guardian)

"It's not one of those roles where you can just come on stage and turn on like a tap. You have to be revved up well before it starts. She goes off like a firecracker. But you still have to be focused at the end, when you have to produce your best singing of the evening."
Susan Bullock (The Guardian)


Tristan und Isolde on DVD

Chéreau/Barenboim, La Scala 2007

tristan cover chereau

Waltraud Meier, Ian Storey, Matti Salminen, Gerd Grochowski, Michelle De Young

Müller / Barenboim, Bayreuth 1995

Siegfried Jerusalem, Waltraud Meier, Matthias Hölle, Falk Struckmann, Uta Priew, Poul Elming, Peter Maus, Sándor Sólyom-Nagy
Read more ...

Bayreuth 2009

Robert Dean Smith, Robert Holl, Iréne Theorin, Jukka Rasilainen, Michelle Breedt




Ponnelle/Barenboim, Bayreuth 1983

René Kollo, Johanna Meier, Matti Salminen, Hanna Schwarz
Read more ...

Konwitschny /  Mehta, München 1999

konwitschny tristan

Waltraud Meier, Jon Fredric West, Kurt Moll, Bernd Weikl, Claes H. Ahnsjö, Marjana Lipovsek, Peter Konwitschny.
Read more ...

Kirchner / Billy, Barcelona 2005

cover tristan barcelona

Deborah Polaski, John Treleaven, Eric Halfvarson, Falk Struckmann, Lioba Braun, Wolfgang Rauch
Read more ...

Lehnhoff / Jiri Belohlavek 2007

Nina Stemme, Robert Gambill, René Pape, Bo Skovhus
Read more ...

Friedrich / Kout, Deutsche Oper 1993

tristan friedrich cover

René Kollo, Gwyneth Jones, Robert Lloyd

Johannes Felsenstein / Golo Berg

tristan cover

Richard Decker, Iordanka Derilova

Böhm, Vickers, Nilsson (1973)

Nikolaus Lehnhoff (1973), Karl Böhm, Jon Vickers, Birgit Nilsson, Walter Berry, Bengt Rundgren, Ruth Hesse

Gustav Kuhn / Tiroler Festspiele Erl, 2006

tristan cover

Tristan und Isolde (DVD):
Tiroler Festspiele Erl 2006, Gustav Kuhn, Alan Woodrow, Michela Sburlati, Duccio dal Monte



Tristan und Isolde on CD

Leonard Bernstein (1981)

Leonard Bernstein Tristan

Hildegard Behrens, Peter Hofmann, Bernd Weikl, Hans Sotin, Yvonne Minton, Heribert Steinbach, Thomas Moser, Heinz Zednik, Raimund Grumbach


Karl Böhm (1966)


Birgit Nilsson, Wolfgang Windgassen, Christa Ludwig, Martti Talvela
Live from Bayreuther Festspiele/Bayreuth Festival

Wilhelm Furtwängler (1952)


Kirsten Flagstad, Ludwig Suthaus, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Josef Greindl, Rudolf Schock, Edgar Evans, Blanche Thebom

Carlos Kleiber (1982)

René Kollo, Margaret Price, Brigitte Fassbaender, Kurt Moll, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Werner Götz, Anton Dermota

Christian Thielemann (2003)

Deborah Voigt, Thomas Moser, Robert Holl, Peter Weber, Markus Nieminen, Petra Lang
Live from Wiener Staatsoper

Antonio Pappano (2005)


Placido Domingo, Nina Stemme, Mihoko Fujimura, René Pape, Rolando Villazón, Ian Bostridge, Olaf Bär

Georg Solti (1960)


Fritz Uhl, Birgit Nilsson, Regina Resnik, Tom Krause, Arnold van Mill, Waldemar Kmentt, Ernst Kozub, Peter Klein

Karl Elmendorff (1928)


Gunnar Graarud, Nanny Larsen-Todsen, Ivar F. Andresen
Live from Bayreuther Festspielhaus

Herbert von Karajan

Jon Vickers, Helga Dernesch, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry
Read more

Fritz Reiner (1936)

Fritz Reiner Tristan 1936 cover

Lauritz Melchior, Kirsten Flagstad, Herbert Janssen, Emanuel List







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