Artistic Director Otaka Tadaaki (2010/2011 season) is particularly fond of the late German romantics. This opera, from Wagner's mature period, is hailed as his greatest work. In opera, the singers often express the joys and tragedies of love in its many forms, but few works portray such consuming love and anguish. In Tristan und Isolde, one can feel the power of Wagner in one's whole body. Conductor Kazushi Ono makes his return to the NNTT after a 12 year absence, and he lead possibly the finest cast of Wagnerian singers available today. Popular Scottish director David McVicar will make his first appearance at the NNTT. His production, stylish and at times shocking, brings out something new and exciting in the works he takes on.
The middle ages of legend. Isolde, an Irish princess, is to be married to Marke, King of Cornwall, in a strategic union. She is quartered aboard the ship of Tristan, the king's nephew. Tristan is the foe of Isolde's previous fiancé, yet she is secretly drawn to him. On the ship, she plans a double suicide with Tristan by poison. But her handmaid, Brangäne, has switched the poison for a love potion, and the two young people fall instantly and passionately in love. Isolde becomes the wife of King Marke, but her meetings with Tristan continue. Brangäne's warnings fall on deaf ears, and one day the king catches the two during a rendezvous. Tristan is mortally wounded by the sword of Morholt, the king's vassal. Tristan's henchman Kurwenal takes him back to his castle to wait for Isolde. Isolde arrives, but her beloved Tristan expires in her arms. The king has learned of the love potion and goes with his entourage intent on forgiving the two, but he arrives to find their lifeless bodies.