Sunday, November 15, 2009

Liebestod

Waltraud Meier sings the Liebestod from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. I was going to introduce this aria for those who might not know it, but words fail me. The clip is about 7 minutes long, with lyrics below. Use headphones.



Love is the most painful thing in life and, along with art, the most redemptive.



Mild und leise
wie er lächelt,
wie das Auge
hold er öffnet, -
seht ihr's, Freunde?
Säh't ihr's nicht?
Immer lichter
wie er leuchtet,
sternumstrahlet
hoch sich hebt?
Seht ihr's nicht?
Wie das Herz ihm
mutig schwillt,
voll und hehr
im Busen ihm quillt?
Wie den Lippen,
wonnig mild,
süsser Atem
sanft entweht: -
Freunde! Seht!
Fühlt und seht ihr's nicht?
Hör ich nur
diese Weise,
die so wunder-
voll und leise,
Wonne klagend,
alles sagend,
mild versöhnend
aus ihm tönend,
in mich dringet,
auf sich schwinget,
hold erhallend
um mich klinget?
Heller schallend,
mich umwallend,
sind es Wellen
sanfter Lüfte?
Sind es Wogen
wonniger Düfte?
Wie sie schwellen,
mich umrauschen,
soll ich atmen,
soll ich lauschen?
Soll ich schlürfen,
untertauchen?
Süss in Düften
mich verhauchen?
In dem wogenden Schwall,
in dem tönenden Schall,
in des Weltatems
wehendem All, -
ertrinken,
versinken, -
unbewusst, -
höchste Lust!
How softly and gently
he smiles,
how sweetly
his eyes open -
can you see, my friends,
do you not see it?
How he glows
ever brighter,
raising himself high
amidst the stars?
Do you not see it?
How his heart
swells with courage,
gushing full and majestic
in his breast?
How in tender bliss
sweet breath
gently wafts
from his lips -
Friends! Look!
Do you not feel and see it?
Do I alone hear
this melody
so wondrously
and gently
sounding from within him,
in bliss lamenting,
all-expressing,
gently reconciling,
piercing me,
soaring aloft,
its sweet echoes
resounding about me?
Are they gentle
aerial waves
ringing out clearly,
surging around me?
Are they billows
of blissful fragrance?
As they seethe
and roar about me,
shall I breathe,
shall I give ear?
Shall I drink of them,
plunge beneath them?
Breathe my life away
in sweet scents?
In the heaving swell,
in the resounding echoes,
in the universal stream
of the world-breath -
to drown,
to founder -
unconscious -
utmost rapture!


For those who can live with poorer audio fidelity, try Birgit Nilsson's version as a heart-stopping alternative.

No comments: