1 (Wagner: Tristan und Isolde). Bass. King Mark (König Marke) of Cornwall, uncle of Tristan who is expected to inherit the throne from Mark. He comes to meet the ship carrying Isolde, escorted by Tristan, from Ireland to marry the King. Mark is unaware that Isolde and Tristan have fallen in love. Melot, supposedly Tristan's friend, in the hope of currying favour, tells the King about Isolde and Tristan's love. Mark is very upset by Tristan's betrayal, for it was Tristan who suggested in the first place that she would be a suitable bride for him. What the King does not know is that Tristan and Isolde were given a love potion by Brangäne, and it is this elixir which is responsible for them declaring their feelings for each other. Mark now becomes compassionate, ready to bless the young lovers, but Tristan, feeling guilty at letting down his uncle, deliberately falls on Melot's sword and is fatally wounded. When Mark arrives to forgive him, Tristan is dead, and Mark's distress is over-whelming. Aria: Tatest du's wirklich? (‘Have you indeed?’). This is a long aria, lasting almost eight minutes and demands much from the singer. Famous King Marks include Edouard de Reszke, Alexander Kipnis, Josef von Manowarda, Richard Mayr, Ludwig Weber, Josef Greindl, Hans Hotter (although better known as Kurwenal), Paul Plishka, Martti Talvela, Kurt Moll, Matti Salminen, Gwynne Howell, John Tomlinson, and Rene Pape. Created (1865) by Ludwig Zottmayer.
2 (Tippett: The Midsummer Marriage). Ten. A young man, an orphan, nothing about his parents being known. He is about to be married to Jenifer when she leaves to search for spiritual awareness and to ‘find herself’. He undertakes a similar ‘journey’, and when they are reunited each is more prepared to accept the other for what they are. Created (1955) by Richard Lewis.
3 (Smyth: The Wreckers). Ten. Lover of Thirza, previously of Avis. Together with Thirza, he warns ships not to come and be wrecked on the coast. As punishment, the lovers are walled up in a cave and left to die in the rising tide. Created (1906) by Jacques Urlus.