All-consuming, adulterous love is at the beating heart of Tristan and Isolde,Wagner’s German-language opera based on a 12th-century tale of a Cornish knight and an Irish princess. In the 1850s, Wagner was married but engaging in an affair of the mind, if not the body, with a woman he considered his muse. It is no wonder that the music is sweeping and passionate, suffused with dark drama. Though modern opera houses perform Tristan and Isolde with regularity, it was considered a titillating glorification of sensual pleasure when it premiered in 1865.
SITE Santa Fe presents music from Tristan and Isolde at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 13. The production is as part of its Digest This! series, in collaboration with the Wagner Society of Santa Fe and in conjunction with SITE’s exhibit, Bel Canto: Contemporary Artists Explore Opera. Digest This! pairs fine art with food or drink. In this instance, audience members indulge in a form of culinary true love: a sampling of cheese from Cheesemongers of Santa Fe, served with an assortment of charcuterie, jams, crackers, olives, and dried fruits. Jeanne Michèle Charbonnet and Katharine Goeldner sing music from Tristan and Isolde, accompanied by Carol Anderson on piano.
Charbonnet, a soprano, is well known for singing the role of Isolde. Opera magazine praised her portrayal as “a bundle of fury” and her voice as alternately smoldering and blazing. Goeldner, a mezzo-soprano, sings the role of Isolde’s maid, Brangäne, which she has performed in Salzburg, Austria, alongside Charbonnet. The artists will speak about the opera and sing selections that address the magic and power of love potions — the drinking of which causes Isolde to fall in love with Tristan.
Digest This! events are designed to be accessible and fun for novices and dedicated art lovers alike. (For those looking for a deeper dive into Tristian and Isolde, it is part of the 2020 season at the Santa Fe Opera.) Tickets for Digest This! are $10, with discounts available. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 505-989-1199 or go to sitesantafe.org.