New York Public Library Digital Library Collections

[Home] [Book] [Expand] [Collapse] [Help]

Clear Search Expand Search


     Wagner: TANNHÄUSER   [Includes RealAudio Selections]      Table of Contents      Wagner: DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG

The Mapleson Cylinders - Program Notes

- Libretti
- Wagner: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE


Wagner: TRISTAN UND ISOLDE

The German seasons at the Metropolitan Opera House (1884-91) saw the American premieres of Tristan und Isolde, Die Meistersinger, and the Ring cycle, in exemplary performances involving artists who had worked with Wagner himself (notably the conductor Anton Seidl). After the restoration of Italian opera in 1891, the music dramas were at first heard less frequently, and were often sung in Italian. However, when Tristan returned in 1895-96, it was sung in German, for Jean De Reszke, who had heretofore never sung in that language, had resolved to learn this challenging role in the original. According to Krehbiel in the Tribune, "Never before have we had a Tristan able to sing the declamatory music of the first and last acts with correct intonation, to say nothing of the duet of the second act."

In Jean's final Metropolitan season, he sang Tristan four times, at the last of which Mapleson made recordings that are among his most frustrating. We could not improve on the intelligibility of the 1940 IRCC 78 rpm issue of excerpts from Act II, which is the source of the transfer on the present side (the new transfer from the original cylinder will be found on Side 12/Band 9, following the even less audible cylinder from Act I of the same performance). In 1901-02, Tristan was sung three times, with Ternina and Ernst Van Dyck, but Mapleson made no further recordings until the second and third of 1902-03's four performances, all of which starred Lillian Nordica and Georg Anthes.

Band 5

Act II: excerpts:

(a) "[wo sie dein] Licht verscheuchte" ... "sie zu löschen zag ich nicht!"

(b) "[O] Wonne der Seele" ... "ewig, ewig ein! Wie lange [fern!]"

Milka Ternina (s), Isolde

Jean De Reszke (t), Tristan

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--

Walter Damrosch

March 13, 1901

[Snake; Glackens 118.]

This cylinder begins as Isolde is about to extinguish the torch, the signal that Tristan may come to her. Mapleson then stops his machine, resuming for the C major Allegro that follows the lovers' first ecstatic greetings.

[original]

ISOLDE

(a)
[Frau Minne will,
es werde Nacht,
das hell sie dorten leuchte, ( She hastens to the torch. )
wo sie dein] Licht verscheuchte. ( She takes the torch from the door. )
Zur Warte du,
dort Wache treu!
Die Leuchte,
und wär's meines Lebenslicht,
lachend
sie zu löschen zag' ich nicht! ( She throws the torch to the ground, where it gradually goes out. )

TRISTAN and ISOLDE
(b)
[O] Wonne der Seele,
o süsse, hehrste,
kühnste, schönste,
seligste Lust!

TRISTAN
Ohne Gleiche!

ISOLDE
Überreiche!

TRISTAN
Überselig!

ISOLDE
Ewig!

TRISTAN
Ewig!

ISOLDE
Ungeahnte,
nie gekannte!

TRISTAN
Überschwänglich
hocherhab' ne!

ISOLDE
Freudejauchzen!

TRISTAN
Lustentzucken!

BOTH
Himmelhöchstes
Weltentrücken!
Mein!

ISOLDE
Tristan mein!

TRISTAN
Isolde mein!

ISOLDE
Tristan mein!

TRISTAN
Isolde mein!

ISOLDE
Mein und dein!

TRISTAN
Mein und dein!

ISOLDE
Ewig! Tristan mein,
Isolde ewig dein!

TRISTAN
Ewig! Isolde mein!

ISOLDE
Tristan!

TRISTAN
Isolde!

ISOLDE
Tristan!

TRISTAN
Isolde!

BOTH
Ewig, ewig ein!

ISOLDE
Wie lange [fern!]

[translation]

ISOLDE

The goddess of love demands:
let it be night,
so that she may illuminate it, ( She hastens to the torch. )
where she has banished your light. ( She takes the torch from the door. )
Go to the watchtower:
and there watch well.
This light--
even if it were the light of my life--
laughing
I do not hesitate to quench it. ( She throws the torch to the ground, where it gradually goes out. )

TRISTAN and ISOLDE
O wonder of the soul,
o sweetest, highest,
proudest, fairest,
holiest joy!

TRISTAN
Without equal!

ISOLDE
Overabundant!

TRISTAN
Supremely blest!

ISOLDE
Eternal!

TRISTAN
Eternal!

ISOLDE
Unforeshadowed,
never known!

TRISTAN
Overflowing,
most sublime!

ISOLDE
Joy-exulting!

TRISTAN
Love-enchanting!

BOTH
Heaven-highest
world-rapture!
Mine!

ISOLDE
Tristan mine!

TRISTAN
Isolde mine!

ISOLDE
Tristan mine!

[Begin Page 55]

TRISTAN
Isolde mine!

ISOLDE
Mine and thine!

TRISTAN
Mine and thine!

ISOLDE
Eternal! Tristan mine,
Isolde ever thine!

TRISTAN
Eternal! Isolde mine!

ISOLDE
Tristan!

TRISTAN
Isolde!

ISOLDE
Tristan!

TRISTAN
Isolde!

BOTH
Eternally, eternally thine!

ISOLDE
How long apart!

Band 6

Act II: Love duet excerpt: "vor deinen Augen süss zerronnen" ... "wahnlos hold bewuss[ter Wunsch]"

Lillian Nordica (s), Isolde

Georg Anthes (t), Tristan

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--Alfred Hertz

February 9, 1903 (?)

[Dated by inference from Bands 7 and 8, although there is no independent evidence. The original cylinder of this passage was totally destroyed in the course of transfer to a lacquer disc at the Library of Congress in 1941, but fortunately not before a complete transfer had been accomplished. The cylinder was split from end to end; when the transferred lacquer is pitched and the click timed with a metronome, the result indicates that its recording speed must have been very close to that of Bands 7 and 8. Attempts at electronic suppression of the click proved fruitless, as the noise extended into the lower frequency ranges where the Packburn transient noise suppressor is ineffective, and razor-blade declicking made audible inroads on the musical content.]

The lovers recline on a flowery bank and welcome the night, in which their love may reveal itself.

[original]

TRISTAN

[Von deinen Zauber
sanft umsponnen,]
vor deinen Augen
süss zerronnen,

ISOLDE
Herz an Herz dir,
Mund an Mund;

TRISTAN
eines Athems
ein'ger Bund;

BOTH
bricht mein Blick
sich wonn'erblindet,
erbleicht die Welt
mit ihrem Blenden:

ISOLDE
die uns der Tag
trugend erhellt,

TRISTAN
zu täuschendem Wahn
entgegengestellt,

BOTH
selbst dann
bin ich die Welt:
Wonne-hehrstes Weben,
Liebe-heiligstes Leben,
Nie-wieder-erwachens
wahnlos hold
bewuss[ter Wunsch.]

[translation]

TRISTAN

By your magic
gently enwrapped,
before your eyes
sweetly melting,

ISOLDE
heart to your heart,
mouth to mouth;

TRISTAN
from single breaths
bound into one;

BOTH
my sight gives way,
blinded by wonder;
the world fades away
with its deception;

ISOLDE
to all that the day
deceitfully → for us,

TRISTAN
to cheating madness
defiantly opposed,

BOTH
myself, then,
I am the world,
wonder-exalted weaving,
love-holiest living,
never-again-to-awaken,
free from illusion,
sweetly conscious desire.

Band 7

Act II: Love duet excerpt: "ohn' Erwachen, ohn' Erbangen" ... "Schon weicht dem Tag die Nacht!"

Lillian Nordica (s), Isolde

Ernestine Schumann-Heink (a), Brangäne

Georg Anthes (t), Tristan

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--Alfred Hertz

February 9, 1903

[Glackens 53.]

The lovers realize that only in death can their love be fulfilled. Brangäne's voice is heard from the tower in warning.

[original]

TRISTAN

[So stürben wir,
um ungetrennt,
ewig einig,
ohne End,']
ohn' Erwachen,
ohn' Erbangen,
namenlos
in Lieb' umfangen,
ganz uns selbst
gegeben,
der Liebe
nur zu Leben!

ISOLDE
So stürben wir,
um ungetrennt,

TRISTAN
ewig einig,
ohne End,'

ISOLDE
ohn' Erwachen,

TRISTAN
ohn' Erbangen,

ISOLDE
namenlos

BOTH
in Lieb' umfangen,
ganz uns selbst
gegeben,
der Liebe
nur zu Leben!

BRANGÄNE
Habet Acht!
Habet Acht!
Schon weicht dem Tag die Nacht!

[translation]

TRISTAN

Thus we should die,
so that undivided,
always united,
without end,
without awakening,
without anxiety,
nameless
clasped in love,
entirely to ourselves
given,
for love
alone we might live!

ISOLDE
Thus we should die,
so that undivided,

TRISTAN
always united,
without end,

ISOLDE
without awakening,

TRISTAN
without anxiety,

ISOLDE
nameless

BOTH
clasped in love,
entirely to ourselves
given,
for love
alone we might live!

BRANGÄNE
Take care!
Take care!
Soon the night will pass!

Band 8

Act II: Love duet excerpt: "[Hehr erhab'ne] Liebesnacht!" ... "höchste Liebeslust! endlos e[wig]"

Lillian Nordica (s), Isolde

George Anthes (t), Tristan

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--Alfred Hertz

February 9, 1903

[Glackens 31.]

[Begin Page 56]

In the final Allegro of the love scene, Hertz makes a surprising cut, one not encountered in later Met performances, even Artur Bodanzky's heavily trimmed edition of the Thirties.

[original]

TRISTAN and ISOLDE

[O ew'ge Nacht,
süsse Nacht!
Hehr erhab'ne]
Liebesnacht!

ISOLDE
Wem du umfangen,

TRISTAN
wem du gelacht,

BOTH
wie wär' ohne Bangen
er aus dir erwacht?

TRISTAN
Wie es fassen,
wie sie lassen,
diese Wonne,

BOTH
fern der Sonne,
fern der Tage
Trennungsklage!

ISOLDE
Ohne Wähnen,

TRISTAN
sanftes Sehnen;

ISOLDE
ohne Bangen,

TRISTAN
süss Verlangen;
ohne Wehen

BOTH
hehr Vergehen;

ISOLDE
ohne Schmachten

BOTH
hold Umnachten

TRISTAN
ohne Meiden,

BOTH
ohne Scheiden,
traut allein,
ewig heim,
in ungemess'nen Räumen
übersel'ges Träumen:

ISOLDE
Du Isolde,

TRISTAN
Tristan du,

ISOLDE
Tristan ich,

TRISTAN
ich Isolde,

ISOLDE
nicht mehr Isolde!

TRISTAN
nicht mehr Tristan!

ISOLDE
Ohne Nennen,

TRISTAN
Ewig!

ISOLDE
ohne Trennen,
neu Erkennen,

TRISTAN
Endlos!

ISOLDE
neu Entbrennen,

BOTH
endlos ewig
einbewusst:

ISOLDE
Endlos!

TRISTAN
Ewig!

ISOLDE
Ewig!

TRISTAN
Endlos!

ISOLDE
Heiss erglühte Brust,

TRISTAN
höchste Liebeslust!

ISOLDE
Endlos e[wig...]

[translation]

TRISTAN and ISOLDE

O endless night,
sweet night!
Most sublime
night of love!

ISOLDE
Whom you embrace,

TRISTAN
whom you smile upon,

BOTH
how without anxiety
were he ever wakened?

TRISTAN
How to grasp it,
how to leave it,
this wonder,

BOTH
far from the sun,
far from the day's
sorrow of parting!

ISOLDE
Without illusions,

TRISTAN
softest yearning;

ISOLDE
without anxiety,

TRISTAN
sweet desiring;
without misery

BOTH
exalted evanescence;

ISOLDE
without languishing,

BOTH
gently wrapped in night,

TRISTAN
without rejection.

BOTH
without separation,
beloved alone,
always home,
in unmeasured spaces
over-blessed dreaming:

ISOLDE
Thou Isolde,

TRISTAN
Tristan thou,

ISOLDE
Tristan I,

TRISTAN
I Isolde,

ISOLDE
no more Isolde!

TRISTAN
no more Tristan!

ISOLDE
Without naming,

TRISTAN
Eternal!

ISOLDE
without separation,
new learning,

TRISTAN
Endless!

ISOLDE
new burning,

BOTH
endlessly eternally
made one consciousness:

ISOLDE
endlessly!

TRISTAN
eternally!

ISOLDE
eternally!

TRISTAN
endlessly!

ISOLDE
warmly glowing breast,

TRISTAN
highest joy of love!

ISOLDE
endlessly eternally...

Band 9

Act III: Isolde's Transfiguration excerpt : "[wie das] Auge hold er öffnet" ... "Fühlt und seht ihr's [nicht?]"

Lillian Nordica (s), Isolde

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--Alfred Hertz

January 7, 1903

[Slip; Glackens 20.]

At the opera's end, in the passage traditionally known as the "Love Death," but which Wagner called "Transfiguration," Isolde sees a vision of the dead Tristan.

Band 10

Act III: Isolde's Transfiguration excerpt : "sternumstrahlet hoch sich hebt?" ... "in mich dringet, auf [sich schwinget]"

Lillian Nordica (s), Isolde

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra--Alfred Hertz

February 9, 1903

[Slip; Glackens 13.]

[original]

ISOLDE

Mild und leise,
wie er lächelt,
wie das [ Band 9 begins→ ] Auge
hold er öffnet,
seht ihr, Freunde,
säh't ihr's nicht?
Immer lichter
wie er leuchtet,
[ Band 10 begins→ ] sternumstrahlet
hoch sich hebt?
Seht ihr's nicht?
Wie das Herz
ihm muthig schwillt,
voll und hehr
im Busen ihm quillt?
Wie den Lippen,
wonnig mild,
süsser Athem
sanft entweht.
Freunde! Seht!
Fühlt und seht ihr's [ ←Band 9 ends ] nicht?
Höre ich nur
diese Weise,
die so wundervoll
und leise,
Wonne klagend,
Alles sagend,
mild versöhnend
aus ihm tönend,
in mich dringet,
auf [ ←Band 10 ends ] sich schwinget...

[translation]

ISOLDE

Mild and gently,
how he smiles,
how his eyes
he sweetly opens,
do you see, friends,
did you not see?
Ever brighter
how he shines,
star-surrounded
rises on high?
Don't you see it?
How his heart
proudly swells,
full and fair
springs in his breast?
How his lips,
wondrous mild,
by sweetest breath
are softly stirred.
Friends! See!
Don't you feel and see it?
Do I alone hear
this melody,
that so wondrous
and soft,
keening wonder,
saying all,
mildly atoning,
sounding from him,
drives inside me,
soars on itself...

[Begin Page 57]

     Wagner: TANNHÄUSER   [Includes RealAudio Selections]      Table of Contents      Wagner: DIE MEISTERSINGER VON NÜRNBERG