Saturday, July 18, 2015

Great Second Life Art Installations: Tristan and Isolde by Giovanna Cerise

The great opera by Richard Wagner - Tristan and Isolde  - is the subject of well-known artist Giovanna Cerise's latest installation. The opera, which first premiered 150 years ago in Munich, is based on the medieval legend of the same name. Tristan and Isolde.  The opera, like all of Wagner's works, is richly orchestrated and deeply emotional and requires incredibly taxing performances by operatic singers over three acts that total a combined performance time of four hours. Tristan and Isolde is considered one of the most influential musical works of the 19th century and was seen as revolutionary and thoroughly modern in 1865 - with rich chromatic harmonies that were never before heard in music.

As is to be expected from a Wagner opera, the two protagonists, handsome Irish Prince Tristan and beautiful English Princess Isolde, fall tragically in love and end up dieing at the end  - but not before treating the listener to some of the most sublime music ever written. The soaring notes and dramatic colorizations of Wagner's music provide the inspiration to Giovanna's striking art installation which I found to compliment the Opera perfectly.

Tristan and Isolde soars high in the heavens against a backdrop of deep blue night time light.  The famous ending of the opera. the Liebestod or Love Death, which is sung by Isolde and which I recommend you listen to in its entirely when visiting (see below), is envisioned by Giovanna  as four interlocking hands bathed in gorgeous white light. This is a fitting conclusion to a tour of this wonderful art installation which confirms the opera's central theme of eternal love which knows no earthly bounds.

Tristan and Isolde is thoroughly enjoyable, and highly worth visiting. Although it can be enjoyed without knowing much about the legend or operatic work behind it, a short amount of preparation will enhance your viewing experience.

For best viewing and photography, please ensure your Windlight sky setting is  Analu outdoor-night which is available in Firestorm and other viewers as an option and which is pre-programmed at the region. Alternatively, a dark night setting such as Midnight will also work well.

Giovanna has placed musical snippets related to each area of the exhibit which you can listen to by clicking the balls with musical notes -- an example of which is below. You will need  to turn off your music and only listen to parcel sounds in order to hear these sounds.

As an alternative, please go to the end of this article to see my suggested musical accompaniment, a 14 minute YouTube video, to play in the background while you visit.

Your taxi to Tristan and Isolde, which is  thoroughly recommend:

To find our more about the Opera Tristan and Isolde:

Upon arrival, you will be offered a note card (in several languages) that contains a good introduction to the Opera that was written by Francesco Bonetto. Wikipedia also has a overview to the Opera that you can access here:

If you wish to experience the entire Opera in advance, there is an excellent version up on YouTube with English subtitles from 11983 conducted by the great Daniel Barenboim, who in my opinion is the greatest living conductor of the works of Richard Wagner. You can access this four-hour video here. Subtitles are shown in English:

To see my coverage of other works by Giovanna:

Giovanna is part of a collaborative installation at MetaLES, Distrito Distinto, which is open at the time of publishing this post:

The Eternal Surprise at LEA 21- (now closed)

Line at Otium - (now closed)

You can read a detailed review of the art installation over at Ziki Questi's Blog:

To see current listings of more  places to visit in Second Life:


Recommended Musical Accompaniment

Although the art installation is pre-programmed with musical samples from the opera Tristan and Isolde that correspond to parts of the exhibit, I toured to music from the acclaimed 1987 performance of parts of the Opera at the Salzburg Festival. The incomparable Wagnerian soprano, Jessye Norman, sings the famous Liebestod accompanied by the Vienna Philharmonic and the legendary conductor Herbert Van Karajan at the event.

Jessye Norman

You can play this Youtube video to capture one of the most magnificent 14 minutes of music ever recorded  as you tour the art installation -- and see how Giovanna's vision captures the stirring essence of Richard Wagner's immortal music.

(Note from Eddi: I always have ethical problems when I listen to and enjoy the works of Richard Wagner, let alone write about him on my blog. Wagner was one of the most infamous bigots and anti-semites of the 19th century - and was particularly admired by the Nazis. However, as I point out in an article here in 2013 for the 200th anniversary of his birth, Wagner did not have Nazi-like views of racial supremacy, and needs to be judged in the context of his times. Politics and art need to be separated as much as possible, but sometimes this is easier said than done.)

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