Tristan and Isolde (Tristan ja Isolde)

Tristan and Isolde (Tristan ja Isolde)

Opera by Richard Wagner

August 8th at Birgitta Festival
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Conductor Risto Joost
Mati Turi (guest), Aile Asszonyi (guest), Karmen Puis, Atlan Karp (guest), Priit Volmer (NO Estonia), Simo Breede, Taavi Tampuu (guest), Oliver Kuusik (guest), Rasmus Kull et al.

As one of the most famous couples from medieval European legends, Tristan and Isolde have inspired writers, artists, theatre and film makers already for nearly a thousand years. The Irish princess Isolde and the heroic knight Tristan feel a magical attraction towards each other, but they meet when Tristan has helped his stepfather the King of Cornwall conquer Isolde’s homeland and killed her fiancé. Tristan is seriously wounded during this ordeal and has himself brought under a pseudonym to Isolde, but she still recognizes him and tries to kill the enemy. However, Isolde quickly abandons this plan as she falls in love with him. As gratitude for his recovery, Tristan pledges eternal faithfulness to her.

However, Tristan feels unworthy of Isolde and goes to King Marke to ask for her hand in marriage. Thus, Isolde would become the queen of the United Kingdom of Cornwall and Ireland. Isolde sees this as a betrayal and together with Tristan they decide to drink poison. Maid Brangäne, terrified to learn of this plan, replaces the poison with a love potion – Tristan and Isolde drink from the chalice and are thus bound by a love that is even stronger than death.

This opera by Wagner, embarced by unrequited love and inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer’s philosophy of pessimism, was premiered in München in 1865. Opera director Liis Kolle debuted at the Vanemuine Theatre in 2002 and is returning now to stage an opera by Wagner for the first time in the history of the Vanemuine Theatre.

The world of love potions and medieval knights may seem distant and irrelevant to us, and yet even today, we are willing to give up love for honour, duty or someone else’s benefit in order to do good, the result being… Tristan and Isolde yield to their love only when they believe they are bewitched and unable to stop the course of events. But do we always need a love potion for that?
– Director Liis Kolle

Attention! The duration of the performance is about five hours!

Premiere on April 3rd 2022 in the Grand Building of the Vanemuine Theatre


Language: German
Surtitles: Estonian, English

Composer and Librettist Richard Wagner
Musical Director and Conductor Risto Joost
Director Liis Kolle
Costume Designer Lilja Blumenfeld
Lighting Designer René Jõhve
Stage Designers René Jõhve, Lilja Blumenfeld, Liis Kolle
Video Designer Kati Jägel
Choreographer Marika Aidla
Stage Combat Consultant Reimo Sagor
Conductor’s Assistants Martin Sildos, Aleksandr Bražnik
Director’s Assistant Merle Jalakas
Chorus Masters Aleksandr Bražnik, Kristi Jagodin
Choir Rehearsal Pianist Katrin Nuume
Rehearsal Pianists Piia Paemurru, Margus Riimaa


Cast Mati Turi guest, Liene Kinča Latvia, Karmen Puis, Atlan Karp guest, Priit Volmer Estonian NO, Simo Breede or Taavi Tampuu guest, Oliver Kuusik guest, Rasmus Kull et al.

The men’s chorus of the Vanemuine Opera Choir and the Vanemuine Symphony Orchestra