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Tristan and Isolde artwork
Tristan and Isolde artwork
nina stemme headshot
Soprano Nina Stemme will sing the role of Isolde

The Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst present special two-week festival: The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde

Tristan and Isolde opera in concert April 21, 26, & 29, featuring renowned dramatic soprano Nina Stemme

Messiaen’s Turangalîla April 25, with Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano Cynthia Millar, ondes Martenot

Divine Ecstasy concert April 28 includes music by Bach, Gabrieli, Kernis, Liszt, and Pärt

Special film presentation of Melancholia presented at the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque April 22

For release Thursday, March 1, 2018

CLEVELANDThe Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst announce further details of the upcoming festival The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde. In a special two-week series of concerts revolving around performances of Wagner’s Romantic opera Tristan and Isolde, Franz Welser-Möst explores the depths and wonder of ecstasy — in a journey toward transcendence and understanding, through music, art, and belief. This festival is part of the Orchestra’s historic 100th season and the 16th year of the Orchestra’s acclaimed partnership with Franz Welser-Möst.

On April 21, 26 and 29, 2018, Franz Welser-Möst leads The Cleveland Orchestra in concert performances of Wagner’s groundbreaking opera Tristan and IsoldeSoprano Nina Stemme stars as Isolde, with tenor Gerhard Siegel as Tristan.  Commenting on this opera, Welser-Möst said:  “If Beethoven marks the start of the Romantic Era in music, which is surely true, there can also be no arguing that Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde represents the ultimate high point of that same Romanticism. In this score, Wagner broke apart the tonal harmonic system to create a sense of longing, to search for rest and peace and home, for the ultimate fulfillment of love. With this opera, Wagner unleashed music from the past and announced the start of our modern world.”

The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde festival also includes concerts led by Welser-Möst on April 25 and 28 as well as a screening of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia in collaboration with the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque on April 22April 25 features Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie for Piano, Ondes Martenot, and Orchestra with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and ondes Martenot player Cynthia Millar.  On April 28 the program includes the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Orchestra performing select choral and brass works and Bach’s Cantata No. 170 with countertenor Iestyn Davies, plus Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on the chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” performed by organist Paul Jacobs. 

When asked how this opera inspired a two-week festival, Welser-Möst said: “Tristan and Isolde is an ecstatic piece. [Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie] is about ecstatic love and directly touches on and re-examines the story of Tristan and Isolde, but in a very different kind of musical language…The other concert [Divine Ecstasy] centers on religious or spiritual ecstasy.” To read part one of the Q&A with Welser-Möst about the opera and festival, click here. For the extended Q&A, click here.

To view the first video in a two-part series about Tristan and Isolde, visit For more information, please see the calendar listing below or visit our website at

Free Concert Previews
Ticket holders of the opera Tristan and Isolde are invited to one of the free concert previews before the concert. The previews on April 17, 18, & 19 at local libraries are offered as part of The Cleveland Orchestra Music Study Group program. Participants can learn about the history of Tristan and Isolde, discuss the life of Richard Wagner, and be guided through musical listening examples with Dr. Rose Breckenridge. For the full list of time and locations, see the calendar listing below.

Opera Patron Information at Severance Hall
For the two 6:00 p.m. performances on April 21 and 26, Act 1 will be followed by a 40 minute intermission and Act 2 will be followed by a 20 minute intermission. For the 3:00 p.m. performance on April 29, each act will be followed by a 20 minute intermission. The total run time of the opera is approximately 4 hours and 20 minutes. Expanded food options will be available from bars in Smith Lobby on the street level, in the Bogomolny Kozerefski Grand Foyer, in the Hood Meyerson Promenade at the box level, and in the John P. Murphy Dress Circle Lobby for each performance. The Severance Restaurant will also be open for pre-concert meals starting at 4:00 p.m. on April 21 and 26, and at 12:00 p.m. on April 29.

The Cleveland Orchestra and Opera
Under Franz Welser-Möst’s direction, The Cleveland Orchestra re-established itself as an important operatic ensemble with Welser-Möst leading annual opera performances during his tenure in Cleveland.  In 2008, he led five sold-out performances of a staged production of Dvořák’s opera Rusalka with the Orchestra at the Salzburg Festival.  He next brought fully-staged opera back to Severance Hall, following a four-decade absence, with a three-season cycle of Zurich Opera productions of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas.  This was followed by concert performances of Strauss’s Salome at Severance Hall and at Carnegie Hall in 2012. In May 2014 Welser-Möst led an innovative new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen combining computer-animated stage design with live action at Severance Hall — with cutting-edge opera director and MacArthur Fellow Yuval Sharon. This production was presented again in September 2017, and a documentary about the production was released by WVIZ/PBS and distributed by American Public Television. In May 2015, he led staged performances of Strauss’s Daphne at Severance Hall, followed by concert performances in New York in July as part of Lincoln Center Festival 2015.  In spring 2016 the Orchestra collaborated with The Joffrey Ballet to create a double-bill of Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and The Miraculous Mandarin. In spring 2017 the Orchestra and Welser-Möst reunited with Yuval Sharon for the world premiere of the innovative opera production of Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande.

Second Century Sponsors
The Cleveland Orchestra is deeply grateful to the visionary philanthropy of its Second Century Celebration Presenting Sponsors, The J.M. Smucker Company and KeyBank, who have given generously to celebrate the Orchestra’s 100th season while animating a bold vision for an extraordinary second century. For a full list of Second Century sponsors, please click here.



Saturday, April 21, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
Thursday, April 26, 2018, at 6:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 29, 2018, at 3:00 p.m.

The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Gerhard Siegel, tenor (Tristan) – Cleveland Orchestra debut
Nina Stemme, soprano (Isolde)
Okka von der Damerau, mezzo-soprano (Brangäne) – Cleveland Orchestra debut
Ain Anger, bass (King Marke)
Alan Held, bass-baritone (Kurwenal)
Sean Michael Plumb, baritone (Melot) – Cleveland Orchestra debut
Matthew Plenk, tenor (Young Sailor/Shepherd)
Francisco X. Prado, baritone (Steersman)
Men of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus

WAGNER  Tristan and Isolde (opera in concert)

(Sung in German, with English supertitles)

In Tristan and Isolde the 19th century’s Romantic Era reached its climax. Here, Wagner wrote powerful music of unending longing (and unresolved harmony) — of a doomed love that reaches its full potential only through death. Renowned dramatic soprano Nina Stemme returns to Cleveland to join a cast of internationally acclaimed singers, together with the clarity and power of The Cleveland Orchestra.

The opera is in three acts and will be performed with two intermissions.
Evening Performances  presented with a 40-minute intermission after Act 1 and a 20-minute intermission after Act 2.
Sunday Afternoon – presented with two 20-minute intermissions.

Light food options will be available at intermissions, from bars in Smith Lobby on the street level, in the Grand Foyer, and in the Dress Circle Lobby.

Sponsor: Jones Day


April 17 – 10 a.m. Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library
April 17 – 1:15 p.m. Beachwood Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library
April 18 – 1:15 p.m. Fairview Park Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library
April 19 – 1:15 p.m. Orange Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library 

Learn about the history of Tristan and Isolde, discuss the life of Richard Wagner, and be guided through musical listening examples with Dr. Rose Breckenridge. 

Offered as part of The Cleveland Orchestra Music Study Group program.

Call (216) 231-7355 or email to reserve your spot today!


Wednesday, April 25, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano
Cynthia Millar, ondes Martenot

MESSIAEN  Turangalîla-Symphonie (for Piano, Ondes Martenot, and Orchestra)

Sponsor: Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP


Saturday, April 28, 2018, at 8:00 p.m.

The Cleveland Orchestra
Franz Welser-Möst, conductor
Vinay Parameswaran, conductor
Lisa Wong, conductor
Iestyn Davies, countertenor
Paul Jacobs, organ
Cleveland Orchestra Chamber Chorus
Cleveland Orchestra Chorus

GABRIELI - Canzon per Sonar Septimi Toni no. 2
GABRIELI - Canzon per Sonar in Echo Duodecimi
PÄRT - Magnificat
GABRIELI - O Magnum Mysterium
KERNIS - "I Cannot Dance, O Lord"
from Ecstatic Meditations
GABRIELI - Canzon francese 3
GABRIELI - Omnes gentes plaudite manibus
BACH - Cantata No. 170 (“Delightful Rest, Beloved Pleasure of the Soul”)
LISZT - Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale “Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” (for solo organ)

An evening of works exploring musical, religious, and mystical ecstasy, and their relationship with human meditation, transcendence, and understanding.


Sunday, April 22, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.
Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, Peter B. Lewis Theater, 11610 Euclid Ave.

Winner of the European Film Award for best film of 2011, Lars von Trier’s apocalyptic fantasy is a visually stunning drama that memorably employs music from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde – and explores similar themes of love and death. Featuring an all-star cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt, and more.

More information can be found at

About The Cleveland Orchestra
Now in its 100th Season in 2017-18 and the launch of its Second Century, The Cleveland Orchestra is undergoing a renaissance.  Acknowledged as among the world’s best, its musicians, staff, board of directors, volunteers, and hometown are working together on a set of enhanced goals for the Orchestra’s Second Century – to develop the youngest audiences of any orchestra; to renew its focus on fully serving the communities where it performs through concerts, engagement, and music education; to continue its legendary musical excellence; to build on its tradition of community support and financial strength; and to move forward into the Orchestra’s next century with a commitment to diversified programming.  Under the direction of Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, the New York Times declared Cleveland to be the “best American orchestra” for its virtuosity, elegance of sound, variety of color, and chamber-like cohesion.  The Cleveland Orchestra divides its time each year across concert seasons at home in Cleveland’s Severance Hall and each summer at Blossom Music Center.  Additional portions of the year are devoted to touring and to a series of innovative and intensive performance residencies.  These include performances in Miami, a biennial residency at Vienna’s Musikverein, and appearances at Switzerland’s Lucerne Festival, New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, and Indiana University.  For more information, visit

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