Jane as Isolde

Welcome guest blogger Jane Eaglen! Read on for Jane’s take on playing the the tragically romantic role of Isolde in Richard Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. And don’t miss her recreating that role in concert with Seattle Symphony, when she performs the heartwrenching Liebestod as part of Wagner and Mahler, June 26–29 at Benaroya Hall.

Isolde is a role very dear to my heart in many ways. It was while singing my first Isolde here in Seattle that I met my husband and subsequently moved here permanently. It is also a role, and an opera, which never fails to move me musically and personally. It’s the age-old love story of star-crossed lovers, destined never to be together, but heightened with some of the most emotionally moving music ever written.

Isolde’s Liebestod (literally, “love-death”) was actually called by Wagner her “transfiguration.” It is the climax of the opera, but is a wonderful self-contained work too. Combined with the Prelude, it still manages to convey the love story and the passion of the entire opera. Wagner sanctioned the two pieces together, which probably counts as the longest cut in opera — almost four hours of music cut!

I’m thrilled to be performing this work with Maestro Gerard Schwarz here in Seattle, a few months after we presented the piece in Helsinki, Finland. It’s always a thrill for me to have the honor of singing Wagner’s music, and to constantly find new things to marvel at and hopefully share.

Image above: Jane Eaglen as Isolde with Seattle Opera, 1998. Courtesy Seattle Opera / Gary Smith.