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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 16, 2005

Aikin To Speak On Wagner's 'Tristan and Isolde' Sept. 23

Judith Aikin, a professor of German in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will discuss the libretto of Richard Wagner's opera "Tristan and Isolde" Friday, Sept. 23, at 4:30 p.m. in room 302 Schaeffer Hall (Commons). The presentation, part of a series sponsored by the UI Opera Studies Group and UI International Programs, is free and open to the public.

In this informal seminar, Aikin will reveal the connection between Wagner's "Tristan and Isolde" and "Tristan," a piece of medieval literature written by Gottfried von Strassburg. She will examine the medieval text and reflect on the ways it was rewritten and adapted by Wagner in his opera.

"Richard Wagner's fascination with medieval German narratives led to the words to his opera and music that comprise the extraordinary opera 'Tristan and Isolde,'" Aiken said.

Aikin is a scholar of early modern German literature with an emphasis on drama, opera and song. Her most recent book, "A Language for German Opera: The Development of Forms and Formulas for Recitative and Aria in Seventeenth-Century German Libretti," deals with verse forms in early German opera. She was trained as a medievalist and continues to teach medieval literature, including Medieval German Literature this semester, a course which concentrates on the three narrative masterpieces that Richard Wagner reformulated as operas:  the anonymous "Song of the Nibelungs," Wolfram von Eschenbach's "Parzival" and Gottfried von Strassburg's "Tristan."

The UI Opera Studies Group, established in 1999 and co-directed by Roberta Marvin and Robert Ketterer, is an interdisciplinary forum for the study of opera and related genres. From its inception, the Opera Studies Group has drawn faculty and advanced graduate students from several departments across campus to both formal and informal gatherings addressing myriad topics ranging from aesthetics to performance practices.

The Opera Studies Group is affiliated with UI International Programs, which consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic programs and dean of international programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and the community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

For more information or for special accommodations to attend the events, contact Robert Ketterer at 319-335-2327 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Program: Robert Ketterer, 319-335-2327; Writer: Po Li Loo