Wagner at Twilight

     This idyllic evening of Wagner's most romantic music at Waterperry Opera Festival featured his Wesendonck Lieder, a setting of five poems by Mathilde Wesendonck (1828- 1902, pictured above).

     Mathilde, the wife of Wagner's patron, Otto von Wesendonck, took music lessons from Wagner and he soon fell in love with her. She returned his passion and while the affair lasted, in 1856-8, he wrote a poem about Tristan and Isolde, marking the beginning of his interest in that supreme love story. The opera was dedicated to her.

     He also paid her the immense compliment of setting five of her poems to music, for soprano voice and orchestra, and it has been said that these "serve as compositional studies for his greatest music drama, Tristan und Isolde." [http://www.luca-casagrande.com/blog/dreams-richard-wagners-five-poems-by-mathilde-von-wesendonk-an-analysis-by-robert-cart/]

     The songs, Der Engel (The Angel),  Stehe still! (Stand Still), Im Treibhaus (In the Hothouse), Schmerzen (Anguish) and Träume (Dreams) are all, as we would expect, intimate and passionate. They were performed last night superbly by soprano Katherine Crompton, who would make a good Isolde.