I important role in Wagnerian opera. The reoccurring

I
this essay I wish to explore an opera written by the German composer Richard
Wagner – Tristan and Isolde. In exploring the work, I will mostly be
focusing on how Wagner uses the Leitmotif composition technique and its
meaning and function in the Opera.

A
Leitmotif
as described in the International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians is a word coined by the Wagnerian scholar
Hans von Wolzogen for
a theme of easily recognized melodic, rhythmic, or harmonic identity, first
used in connection with a certain character of incident, and which returns time
and again, always with a reminiscence for the original association. The
description continues by adding: The Wagnerian
Leitmotif serves a structural purpose, however, that is distinct from the
use of reminiscent themes in the scores of earlier opera composers. (1)

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Wagner
had an idea of a new form or art synthesis that would be able to produce the
dramatic conviction through music. He thus grants an exceptional importance for
the orchestra in his operas. Not only the orchestral music provides support of
the visual drama, but rather the other way around, the music was the drama
itself with the visual addition to support it.

Through
this integration of visual drama and musical expansion Wagner achieved a new
and unique form of opera that was unlike anything that preceded it. In the
older opera, dramatic and lyrical constituents had been separated. However, Wagner
thought of them as one thing and called his work Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art.

This is why the Leitmotif plays such
an important role in Wagnerian opera. The reoccurring and constantly evolving musical
fragments and themes have immense significance on how the listener perceives
the drama. Recognising various Leitmotifs
in different contexts provides strong immersion both musically and dramatically
and this can be experienced clearly in Tristan
and Isolde