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Kurwenal


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(Wagner: Tristan und Isolde). Bar. One of Tristan's retainers and his close friend. He is with his master on board the ship in which Tristan is escorting Isolde to Cornwall where she will marry Tristan's uncle, King Mark. When Brangäne comes to Tristan with a message from her mistress, summoning him to her presence, Kurwenal is angry—how dare anyone speak to his master in this way? Before they land, Isolde and Tristan declare their love, under the influence of the love potion given to them by Brangäne, and arrange to meet that night in the king's castle. Kurwenal arrives to warn them of King Mark's approach. After Tristan has been seriously wounded on the treacherous Melot's sword, Kurwenal carries him back to his estate at Kareol in Brittany and devotedly nurses him. He sends for Isolde to cure Tristan's wound and anxiously awaits her arrival, distressed by his beloved master's rapidly deteriorating condition. At last Kurwenal sees Isolde's ship and describes to Tristan how it is coming nearer. He rushes to meet Isolde. Tristan dies in Isolde's arms. King Mark and Melot also arrive at Kareol, and holding Melot's betrayal responsible for Tristan's death, Kurwenal kills Melot and is fatally wounded in the attack. He dies at Tristan's side—a servant faithful to the end. Aria: Auf! Auf! Ihr Frauen! (‘Up! Up, you ladies!’); Mein Herre! Tristan! Schrecklicher Zauber! (‘My Lord! Tristan! Dreadful magic!’); duet (with Tristan): Wo du bist? In Frieden, sicher und frei! (‘Where are you? In peace, safe and free!’). Among notable portrayers of this role are David Bispham, Jaro Prohaska, Hans Hotter, Gustav Neidlinger, Dietrich Fischer‐Dieskau, Walter Berry, Eberhard Wächter, Donald McIntyre, Hermann Becht, and Falk Struckman, many of whom went on to become famous Wotans. Created (1865) by Anton Mitterwurzer.

Subjects: Opera.


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