- Composer: Wilhelm Richard Wagner (22 May 1813 -- 13 February 1883)
- Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra
- Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler
- Soloists: Ludwig Suthaus (tenor), Kirsten Flagstad (soprano)
- Year of recording: 1952 (studio)
Love duet from opera 'Tristan & Isolde' (Act II), "O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe", written in 1857-1859.
Tristan und Isolde (Tristan and Isolde, or Tristan and Isolda, or Tristran and Ysolt) is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting. Wagner referred to the work not as an opera, but called it "eine Handlung" (literally a drama. a plot or an action), which was the equivalent of the term used by the Spanish playwright Calderón for his dramas.
The Love Duet from Act II:
The lovers, at last alone and freed from the constraints of courtly life, declare their passion for each other. Tristan decries the realm of daylight which is false, unreal, and keeps them apart. It is only in night, he claims, that they can truly be together and only in the long night of death can they be eternally united ("O sink' hernieder, Nacht der Liebe"). During their long tryst, Brangäne calls a warning several times that the night is ending ("Einsam wachend in der Nacht"), but her cries fall upon deaf ears. The day breaks in on the lovers as Melot leads King Marke and his men to find Tristan and Isolde in each other's arms. Marke is heart-broken, not only because of his nephew's betrayal but also because Melot chose to betray his friend Tristan to Marke and because of Isolde's betrayal as well ("Mir - dies? Dies, Tristan - mir?").
When questioned, Tristan says he cannot answer to the King the reason of his betrayal since he would not understand, he turns to Isolde, who agrees to follow him again into the realm of night. Tristan denounces that Melot has fallen in love with Isolde too. Melot and Tristan fight, but, at the crucial moment, Tristan throws his sword aside and allows Melot to severely wound him.
On this recording:
- Furtwängler himself was very pleased with it, which wasn't normally the case with studio recordings. Schwarzkopf and Legge said that Flagstad couldn't reach the high notes anymore so that she (Schwarzkopf) 'lent' her the notes. That means Schwarzkopf sang them for Flagstad in this recording, at least that's what Schwarzkopf wrote down in her memoirs. We can doubt her claim however, because it's not clear if they could record it so well in those days that one could hardly hear the difference. It was quite embarrassing anyway for Flagstad when she heard about (or read in the newspapers) these rumours.