Opera by Richard Wagner
Tristan’s ship is sailing fast. The song of the young sailor is heard in the distance. The nephew of the King of Cornwall is taking to his uncle the young Irish princess Isolde. She does not want to marry King Marke. She is sad and often sets her gaze on the young Tristan.
Brangäne, the faithful maid, is worried about her mistress. Isolde tells her how once her fiancé, the knight Morold, went to get the annual tax that King Marke of Cornwall paid to Ireland. But this time instead of tax from Cornwall they received the severed head of Morold. He fell in a duel with the nephew of King Marke, Knight Tristan. Later Tristan himself was severely wounded in battle and on a small boat managed to reach the shores of Ireland. Princess Isolde, famous for her ability to heal with herbs, cured the deadly wounds of the unknown young man who identified himself as Tantris. When Tantris was almost healed, Isolde accidentally found out that he was the murderer
of her fiancé Morold and decided to take revenge.
She had already raised the sword when Tristan looked at her straight in the eyes and the hand of the princess fell down powerless. Isolde fell in love with Tristan.
When he returned home, Tristan so enthusiastically told all about the beautiful and clever Irish princess that King Marke immediately decided to take her for a wife. As an intermediary he sent his nephew. Isolde was outraged when she discovered that her beloved Tristan came to ask her for another – the old King Marke. But her parents decided that this
marriage is beneficial and Isolde was forced to submit to their will.
Finally Tristan himself appears at the call of the Princess. Isolde lavishes him with bitter reproaches and wants retribution for the death of her fiancé Morold. Tristan hands her his sword in silence – let her kill him. But Isolde has in mind another death:
her enemy must drink poison. At the request of the Princess, Brangäne brings a cup of poison. Tristan takes it without hesitation, and drinks of the deadly potion. But the desired death does not
come. Suddenly a passionate longing overwhelms the young couple. They can not take their eyes off each other, watching with delight, conquered by the incredible, powerful force of love. Instead
of poison, Brangäne mistakenly has given them a love drink! The news that they will soon be with King Marke, wakes Tristan from the oblivion. He brings out the almost unconscious Isolde on the
shore, where she is expected by the King.
Bright summer night in the park in front of King Marke’s palace. Isolde is very much looking forward to her meeting with Tristan. The king has gone hunting at night and nothing will disturb the happiness of the two lovers. Overcome with passion, Isolde does not hear the warnings of the faithful Brangäne: this is a trap set by the sly royal adviser Melot. The wily courtier has told Marke to go hunting that night and come back suddenly!
Isolde can not wait. She insists that the torch in front of her chambers be extinguished as soon as possible in order to give Tristan the pre-arranged signal. under the cover of darkness Tristan penetrates in the chambers of Isolde. They are not able to enjoy their happiness long. Kurwenal, Tristan’s servant, warns of approaching danger.
The King and Melot are about to appear any moment. Old Marke is broken – he can not fathom how his beloved nephew, the truest and noblest of all young knights, had betrayed him. Tristan can not justify himself. Powerless to control his feelings, he asks Isolde if she wants to die with him. Yes, the young woman is ready to die with the man she loves. This will be bliss for her. Tristan approaches Isolde and kisses her on the forehead. Melot calls King to take revenge. A duel begins between Marke’s courtiers and the knight. In the hot skirmish Tristan is badly injured. The faithful Kurwenal takes away his master.
Tristan is lying in his rooms in the castle in
Cornwall. Kurwenal watches over his heavy sleep. A shepherd’s reed-pipe is overheard. The young herdsman asks Kurwenal of the master’s health.
The servant requests the young man to keep watch on the sea and announce the arrival of the ship with Isolde. Only she can save Tristan’s life. The wounded knight slowly comes around. With the awakening his memory returns. He remembers
his experiences, and his soul is filled with sorrow. He’ll never see Isolde again!
The melody of the shepherd’s pipe sounds. The ship of the Irish princess is already nearby. Having gathered his last strength, Tristan rises from the
bed and rushes to meet his beloved. He hugs her and dies. Isolde falls senseless on the body of her beloved. The young shepherd reports the arrival of another
ship. King Marke comes. With him Melot, Brangäne and his entourage. Bristling Kurwenal enters into battle with Melot, kills him and falls mortally wounded himself at the feet of his dead master.
King Marke is shocked. Brangäne has confessed that instead of poison – out of fear – she gave Tristan and Isolde a love drink. Marke has come to unite the two young lovers. Isolde awakens from a deep fainting. She can not live without her beloved and dies on the chest of her Tristan.