"I had heard her sing Isolde"


 ‘Tristan und Isolde’ is a German opera by Richard Wagner, which premiered in Munich in 1865.  It is based on the Arthurian story ‘Tristan and Iseult’. The names of the characters were Germanised by Wagner, but the general synopsis is the same.  Isolde, an Irish princess, and Tristan, a Cornish knight, fall in love while en route to Cornwall where she is promised in marriage to his uncle, King Marke.  This happens by virtue of a love potion which they both drink; originally prepared by Isolde, she intended it to kill Tristan in revenge for a previous betrayal.  The theme of love and death being mirrors of each other culminates in the opera’s final aria, the Liebestod.  King Marke comes to know of the affair between the two, but ultimately seeks to unite them.  The third and final act of the opera takes place in Brittany, the same place that our narrator travels to following her marriage.