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Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde"; an essay on the Wagnerian drama   By: (1851-)

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George Ainslie Hight’s essay on Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” is a thought-provoking analysis of the Wagnerian drama that sheds light on its profound depth and cultural significance. The author skillfully dissects the various elements of this timeless opera, unravelling its intricate themes and exploring its impact on the realm of music and literature.

From the outset, Hight establishes his expertise and passion for the subject matter, displaying a deep understanding of Richard Wagner's compositional genius and his unique ability to intertwine music, story, and philosophical concepts. The author contextualizes "Tristan und Isolde" within Wagner’s wider body of work, highlighting the opera's role in the transition from traditional opera to a more innovative and emotionally charged art form.

Hight delves into the various themes encompassed in "Tristan und Isolde," most notably the all-encompassing power of love and the profound longing for union. He examines how Wagner’s composition creates an immersive experience for the audience, captivating them with its intense emotional journey. The author skillfully explores the opera's complex characters, particularly Tristan and Isolde, delving into their motivations, desires, and the psychological turmoil that drives the narrative forward.

Furthermore, Hight sensitively analyzes the role of music in this opera and its unique ability to convey emotions that surpass the boundaries of language. He meticulously dissects the leitmotifs present throughout the opera, highlighting their significance and revealing their connection to the characters and their internal struggles. The author’s deep understanding of Wagner’s musical techniques enhances the reader's appreciation for the opera's profound emotional impact.

Hight's exploration extends beyond the realm of music and delves into the philosophical underpinnings of "Tristan und Isolde." He explores the Wagnerian concept of "Gesamtkunstwerk" or "total artwork," discussing how the opera fuses together various art forms to create a powerful and immersive experience. The author convincingly argues that through the synesthetic fusion of music, drama, and literature, Wagner pushes the boundaries of artistic expression, transporting the audience into a world that both challenges and captivates.

One of the essay’s notable strengths lies in Hight’s ability to elucidate complex concepts and themes in a manner that remains accessible to both scholars and casual readers. His language is precise and engaging, enabling readers to appreciate the depth and beauty of the opera without feeling overwhelmed by academic jargon.

In conclusion, George Ainslie Hight’s essay on Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” is a captivating exploration of the opera's intricate tapestry of themes, characters, and music. The author’s deep understanding and passionate analysis provide readers with a profound appreciation for Wagner's musical and philosophical brilliance. Whether one is a fan of opera, literature, or simply intrigued by the power of art to evoke emotions, Hight’s essay is a compelling read that will leave a lasting impression.

First Page:

Tiffany Vergon, Charles Aldarondo, Cam Venezuela, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.




Passing the visions, passing the night, Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrade's hands, Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul, Victorious song, death's outlet song, yet varying, ever altering song, As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night, Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy, Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven, As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses.

Walt Whitman.


The following pages contain little if anything that is new, or that would be likely to interest those who are already at home in Wagner's work. They are intended for those who are beginning the study of Wagner. In spite of many books, I know of no Wagner literature in English to which a beginner can turn who wishes to know what Wagner was aiming at, in what respect his works differ from those of the operatic composers who preceded him. Some sort of Introduction appears to me a necessary preliminary to the study of Wagner, not because his works are artificial or unnatural, but because our minds have become perverted by the highly artificial products of the Italian and French opera, so that a work of Wagner at first appears to us very much as Paradise Lost or a tragedy of Sophokles would appear to a person who had never read anything but light French novels... Continue reading book >>

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