The Sydney Symphony Orchestra is making available a performance of Wagner’s opera Tristan and Isolde on YouTube. The first act is online now. Act 2 will be released on August 31, and Act 3 will be released on September 14.
Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde had a substantial effect on Western music. Some consider it the first “modern” music. Even if you’re not an opera (or Wagner) fan, I hope you’ll take time to listen to the overture.
So much has been written on the “Tristan chord” used in this opera. Wagner defies our expectations of what should come next, using chords that do not resolve in a traditional way. The effect is one of unease, longing. It was shocking at the time; it is still beautifully disquieting now.
Image attribution: Tristan and Isolde by Edmund Leighton [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALeighton-Tristan_and_Isolde-1902.jpg