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Tristan & Isolde

Opera. Tristan and Isolde ought to be separated by hate, yet they love each other more than they love life itself. With this gigantic intimate drama, we celebrate Wagner’s bicentennial.

”...Tristan and Isolde has a restrained intensity that has you sitting there in total concentration right up to the Liebestod in the final minutes” Svenska Dagbladet
"It is a congenial use of the scenographic space” Göteborgs-Posten
”Highly expressive yet also delicate and sparkling musical sensitivity, like chamber music, under the direction of Stefan Lano” Dagens Nyheter
”Both of those playing the principal roles, Annalena Persson and Lars Cleveman, make outstanding contributions” Göteborgs-Posten
”We welcome Katarina Karnéus' Brangäne, Isolde's faithful attendant, into the host of great Swedish Wagnerian female singers” Expressen
Annalena Persson, soloistPhoto: Camilla Simonson
Lars Cleveman, soloistPhoto: Anna Thorbjörnsson

A ship out at sea, between the Ireland of the king’s daughter Isolde and her future homeland in Cornwall, is the setting for this gigantic but intimate drama with a deadly love potion at its heart. Using material from Celtic legend, Wagner weaves a multi-faceted and tragic love story, full of philosophical and existential themes. The famous Tristan chord of the overture changed the history of music forever. The harmonic, late romantic music has the ability to transfix its audiences and touch us deep within our soul.

Tristan loves and desires Isolde, but as he has been ordered to act as her consort and take her to Marke, King of Cornwall, his honour forbids him to face up to his feelings. Isolde, who loves and desires Tristan, is deeply hurt by his rejection and decides that they should drink a goblet of poison together. Secretly, Isolde’s lady’s maid replaces the deadly potion with one whose effect is to create an irrevocable love. Now madly in love, Tristan and Isolde submit to their spiritual and physical love in a stunningly beautiful love duet, one of the longest and most passionate in the history of opera. Their imprudence and deceit has terrible consequences in this story of a love so overwhelming that it can be fulfilled only in death.

In charge of the production is the close-knit and acclaimed team behind the production of Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung at Wermland Opera in spring 2011. Director Wilhelm Carlsson returns to The Göteborg Opera after Goya (2009) and set designer Peter Lundquist returns after Mary Poppins (2008). Conductor Stefan Lano makes his first appearance in Sweden.

Some of Scandinavia’s leading singers have come together for Tristan and Isolde. Isolde is sung by Annalena Persson, who has already interpreted the role on several international stages. As her beloved Tristan we see Lars Cleveman, making an eagerly awaited first appearance at The Göteborg Opera after his summer 2011 debut in Bayreuth as Tannhäuser. Katarina Karnéus makes her appearance as the lady’s maid who turns death into love. American baritone James Johnsson takes the role of Kurwenal.

Watch a video clip from Tristan & Isolde

Watch photos from Tristan & Isolde

Watch a film clip from the season presentation

Look at Ann-Mari Anttila's costume sketches


  • Genre: Opera
  • Season: 2012/2013
  • premiere: 9 Feb 2013
  • Last show: 23 Mar 2013
  • Location:

    Main Stage

  • Length: 5 hours and 10 minutes, including 2 intervals.


Conductor   Stefan Lano
Direction   Wilhelm Carlsson
Set design   Peter Lundquist
Costume design   Ann-Mari Anttila
Light design   Torkel Blomkvist

Takes part

Tristan   Lars Cleveman
King Marke   Mats Almgren
Isolde   Annalena Persson
Kurwenal   James Johnson
Brangäne   Katarina Karnéus
A Shepherd   Iwar Bergkwist
Melot   Marco Stella
A Steerman   Jonas Landström
A young sailor (recorded)   Tomas Lind
The Göteborg Opera Male Chorus
The Göteborg Opera Orchestra
Extra Chorus (Male)


Play Interval