Tristan und Isolde | 2000
Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Isolde are brought together by a love potion and united in death.
Act I begins on board a ship from Ireland to Cornwall. Tristan is taking the fiery Isolde, against her will, to be the bride of his uncle, King Marke of Cornwall. Isolde's maid, Brangane, tries in vain to calm her mistress, but Isolde is enraged. She sends Brangane to summon Tristan, but Tristan's servant, Kurwenal, tells Brangane that Tristan is not at Isolde's beck and call. Isolde recalls that Tristan, in Ireland to collect taxes for King Marke, slew her fiance, Morold, in combat. She herself had nursed the wounded knight, using her mother's knowledge of herbs and magic. When she realized he was her fiance's slayer, she bemoaned her charity. Isolde instructs Brangane to prepare one of her mother's potions -- the one that brings death. With land in sight, Isolde offers Tristan a drink of friendship. Understanding that Isolde means to poison them both, he drinks. Expecting death, they exchange instead a look of love and fall into a passionate embrace. Brangane admits she mixed a love potion.
Act II begins in a garden outside King Marke's castle. Isolde is impatient for a rendezvous with Tristan. Brangane cautions her about spies, particularly Melot, a jealous knight, but Isolde says Melot is Tristan's friend and urges Brangane to position the warning torch so that Tristan may approach. Their idyll is shattered as Kurwenal runs in with the warning that the king and his followers, led by Melot, are approaching. Melot denounces the lovers and Marke rebukes Tristan for dishonoring him. As Isolde swears to follow Tristan into death, Melot rushes forward, sword drawn. Wounded, Tristan falls into Kurwenal's arms.
Act III takes place outside Tristan's castle in Brittany, where the knight lies wounded, tended by Kurwenal. He clings to life only so that he can find Isolde and take her with him to the realm of night. As Isolde's ship nears, Tristan grows agitated, recklessly tearing his bandages and letting his wounds bleed. No sooner has Isolde rushed in than he falls into her arms. She exhorts him to live, but he is dead. Another ship approaches, bringing King Marke and Melot, bent on vengeance. Kurwenal attacks, killing Melot and holding the king's retainers at bay until he himself is mortally wounded. King Marke, overwhelmed with sadness, sees the dead Tristan. Brangane tries to rouse Isolde, telling her the king has come to pardon and unite the lovers. But Isolde has a vision of Tristan beckoning to the world beyond. She sinks in death upon Tristan's body.