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Tristan und Isolde
Act 1
Scene 1
Richard Wagner

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Tristan and Isolde

Act 1


At sea on the deck of Tristan's ship during the passage from Ireland to Cornwall.

Tent-like enclosure on the foredeck of a sailing ship, luxuriously hung with tapestries, at the beginning completely closed in the back; on the side a narrow stairway leads down to the lower deck of the ship.

(Isolde on a divan, her face pressed into the pillows. Brangäne, pulling back one of the tapestries, looks off to one side out at the water.)

Scene 1

Voice of a Young Seaman.

(audible from above, as if from the mast)
wanders the gaze;
the ship progresses.
The wind blows briskly
towards the homeland;
my Irish child,
where do you tarry?
Is it the breath from your sighs
that fills my sails?
Blow, blow, you wind!
Woe, ah woe, my child!
Irish maiden,
you wild, lovely maiden!


(starting abruptly)
Who dares to mock me?
(she looks around, disoriented)
Brangäne, you?
Tell me --- where are we?


(at the opening in the curtain)
Blue streaks
rose up in the west;
smoothly and swiftly
the ship sails on;
by calm seas we surely
will reach land before evening.


What land?


Cornwall's green shore.


Not today nor tomorrow!


(lets drop the curtain and hurries to Isolde, upset)
What do I hear? Mistress! Ah!


(wildly, staring straight ahead)
Degenerate race!
Unworthy of the ancestors!
To whom, mother,
did you give away the power
to command ocean and storm?
Oh tame craft
of the sorceress
who no longer brews anything but medicinal potions!
Awaken again to me,
bold violent power;
come up from within my bosom
where you concealed yourself!
Hear my will,
timid winds!
Onward to battle,
to howling tempest!
To ferocious maelstrom
of raging storms!
Rouse out of sleep
this dreaming ocean,
wake from the depths
its thunderous appetite!
Show it the booty
that I offer it!
Let it smash this arrogant ship,
and swallow the shattered debris!
And, what lives on it,
the fluttering breath,
that I leave to you winds as a reward!


(extremely shocked, fussing over Isolde)
Oh woe!
Ah, ah,
the disaster I'd suspected!
Isolde! Mistress!
Precious heart!
What did you hide from me for so long?
Not one tear
did you shed when leaving father and mother;
hardly a single farewell
did you offer to those left behind.
As you departed the homeland
cold and silent,
pale and taciturn
during the voyage;
without nourishment,
without sleep;
numb and miserable,
wildly distraught:
how did I bear it
to see you like this,
to no longer mean anything to you,
to stand before you like a stranger?
Oh, now tell
what it is that troubles you?
Say, make known
what it is that tortures you?
Mistress Isolde,
dearest beautiful one,
that she may believe herself to be valued by you,
confide now in Brangäne!


Air! Air!
My heart is suffocating!
Open up! Open up wide over there!

(Brangäne hurriedly parts the curtains in the middle.)

[End of Act 1, scene 1]

Exploring The Waste Land - [Home] [E-mail] File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002