Tristan and Isolda / Opera in Three Acts

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Transcriber’s note: The German text is not included in this eBook. The music can be clicked on to view larger images.

GRAND OPERA LIBRETTOS

GERMAN AND ENGLISH TEXT AND MUSIC OF THE LEADING MOTIVES

TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

(TRISTAN AND ISOLDA)

BY

WAGNER

OLIVER DITSON COMPANY
BOSTON
CHAS. H. DITSON & CO
New York
LYON & HEALY
Chicago


TRISTAN AND ISOLDA

OPERA IN THREE ACTS

BY

RICHARD WAGNER

BOSTON
OLIVER DITSON COMPANY
CHAS. H. DITSON & CO.
NEW YORK
LYON & HEALY
CHICAGO

THE STORY OF “TRISTAN AND ISOLDA”

ACT I

Tristan, a valiant Cornish knight, is bringing Isolda, princess of Ireland, over as a bride for his uncle, King Mark. He is himself in love with her, but owing to a blood feud between them, forces himself to conceal his passion. Isolda, in anger at his seeming unkindness, attempts to poison herself and him, but her attendant, Brangæna, changes the draft for a love potion, which enflames their passion beyond power of restraint.

ACT II

Isolda has been wedded to King Mark, but holds stolen interviews with Tristan, during one of which they are surprised, for Tristan has been betrayed by a jealous friend, Melot. Touched by King Mark’s bitter reproaches, Tristan provokes Melot to fight and suffers himself to be mortally wounded.

ACT III

Tristan’s faithful servant, Kurvenal, has carried his wounded master to his native home in Brittany, where he is carefully tended. Isolda has also been sent for, as being skilled above all others in the healing art. The excitement of her approach only hastens Tristan’s death, and he breathes his last sigh in her arms. Mark has followed Isolda; he has had matters explained, and is prepared to reunite the lovers, but it is too late. Isolda utters her lament over the body of her lover, and her heart breaks: in death alone are they united.


DRAMATIS PERSONÆ
TRISTAN MELOT
KING MARK BRANGÆNA
ISOLDA A SHEPHERD
KURVENAL A STEERSMAN
SAILORS, KNIGHTS, AND ESQUIRES

TRISTAN AND ISOLDA.

ACT I.

[A pavilion erected on the deck of a ship, richly hung with tapestry, quite closed in at back at first. A narrow hatchway at one side leads below into the cabin.]

SCENE I.

ISOLDA on a couch, her face buried in the cushions.— BRANGÆNA holding open a curtain, looks over the side of the vessel.

THE VOICE OF A YOUNG SAILOR (from above as if at the mast-head).

sheet music

 

ISOLDA (starting up suddenly).
What wight dares insult me?

(She looks round in agitation.)

Brangæna, ho!
Say, where sail we?

BRANGÆNA (at the opening).
Bluish stripes
are stretching along the west:
swiftly sails
the ship to shore;
if restful the sea by eve
we shall readily set foot on land.

ISOLDA. What land?

BRANGÆNA. Cornwall’s verdant strand.

ISOLDA. Never more!
To-day nor to-morrow!

BRANGÆNA. What mean you, mistress? say!

(She lets the curtain fall and hastens to ISOLDA.)

ISOLDA (with wild gaze).
O fainthearted child,
false to thy fathers!
Ah, where, mother,
hast given thy might
that commands the wave and the tempest?
O subtle art
of sorcery,
for mere leech-craft followed too long!
Awake in me once more,
power of will!
Arise from thy hiding
within my breast!
Hark to my bidding,
fluttering breezes!
Arise and storm
in boisterous strife!
With furious rage
and hurricane’s hurdle
waken the sea
from slumbering calm;
rouse up the deep
to its devilish deeds!
Shew it the prey
which gladly I proffer!
Let it shatter this too daring ship
and enshrine in ocean each shred!
And woe to the lives!
Their wavering death-sighs
I leave to ye, winds, as your lot.

BRANGÆNA (in extreme alarm and concern for ISOLDA).
Out, alas!
Ah, woe!
I’ve ever dreaded some ill!—
Isolda! mistress!
Heart of mine!
What secret dost thou hide?
Without a tear
thou’st quitted thy father and mother,
and scarce a word
of farewell to friends thou gavest;
leaving home thou stood’st,
how cold and still!
pale and speechless
on the way,
food rejecting,
reft of sleep,
stern and wretched,
wild, disturbed;
how it pains me
so to see thee!
Friends no more we seem,
being thus estranged.
Make me partner
in thy pain!
Tell me freely
all thy fears!
Lady, thou hearest,
sweetest and dearest;
if for true friend you take me,
your confidant O make me!

ISOLDA. Air! air!
or my heart will choke!
Open! open there wide!

(BRANGÆNA hastily draws the centre curtains apart.)

SCENE II.

[The whole length of the ship is now seen, down to the stern, with the sea and horizon beyond. Round the mainmast sailors are ensconced, busied with ropes; beyond them in the stern are groups of knights and attendants, also seated; a little apart stands TRISTAN folding his arms and thoughtfully gazing out to sea; at his feet KURVENAL reclines carelessly. From the mast-head above is once more heard the voice of the young sailor.]

THE YOUNG SAILOR (at the mast-head invisible).
The wind so wild
blows homewards now;
my Irish child,
where waitest thou?
Say, must our sails be weighted,
filled by thy sighs unbated?
Waft us, wind strong and wild!
Woe, ah woe for my child!

ISOLDA (whose eyes have at once sought TRISTAN and fixed
stonily on him—gloomily
). Once beloved—
now removed—
brave and bright,
coward knight!—
Death-devoted head!
Death-devoted heart!—

(laughing unnaturally).

Think’st highly of yon minion?

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