Loving Is

Instrumentation: Baritone, Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Cello, and Piano
Duration: 10 minutes
Recording Available: No
Performed: Yes
Catalog ID: RE1063
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The legend of Tristan and Isolde has enchanted audiences since the twelfth century and continues to inspire. This epic story of passionate love flourished across Europe with notable versions in English, Celtic, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Norse, Icelandic, and Byelorussian. The legend has been subject to significant variations, with new or embellished episodes creating distinctive dramatic, thematic, and psychological motifs.

The story addresses some of life’s most fundamental questions: what is the nature of desire, and what governs its selection; and what is the role of individual and free will in relation to such social structures as the State and the Church? Many treatments of the Tristan saga feature characters who mirror the passions of the central couple: the knights Palamedes and Kaherdin fall desperately in love with Isolde; Tristan himself marries another woman (also named Isolde) so that he might better understand what it means to love while married to another; and later versions intertwine the lovers’ adventures with those of Lancelot, Guinevere and King Arthur who mirror the adulterous passion, heroic striving, and torn loyalties central to the legend.

Loving Is emerges from an exploration of Tristan going mad with violent jealousy, a tradition found in the French Prose Tristan and elsewhere. As he does so, he faces vexing questions of faith and fidelity: what does one know, how does one know it, and how does one live with doubt? This leads Tristan to his own version of a Grail quest as he seeks to understand the i am, or mystery of being that underlies all things.

Loving Is was written for the Remarkable Theater Brigade 2011 Opera Shorts Program.