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Wagner Weekend

Contrary to popular belief, “Tristan und Isolde” does not end with a Liebestod, or “love-death.” In the final minutes of the opera, Isolde indeed collapses, lifeless, after singing an aria of serene ecstasy over Tristan’s body. But Wagner called that monologue Isolde’s “Transfiguration.” He applied the word “Liebestod” to the music of groping longing that appears in the Prelude and recurs in Act I, as the lovers partake of the potion that they mistakenly believe to be poison.
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