The great tragic love story Tristan and Isolde has provided inspiration for the widest range of artistic spin-offs, from Wagner’s opera to Joyce's Finnegan’s Wake. Its latest incarnation comes from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang (The Little Match Girl Passion), who researched all the available texts of the story in pursuit of "weird incidents" and then threw out all references to the actual lovers, creating instead a new and universal meditation on love’s fundamental mysticism and complexity. Titled love fail, the 12-song cycle’s libretto uses stories by noted American writer Lydia Davis that, says Lang, are "remarkably similar to the Tristan stories, but much more recognizable to us." At its Yale premiere last June, love fail was praised by the New Haven Review as a "stunning exercise in vocal precision, polyphony, overlapping voices, and hypnotic variations on simple lyrics." The performers who brought it off were none other than Anonymous 4, and this weekend, this remarkable female vocal ensemble presents the L.A. premiere of the work, in an unusual setting. "Seating for this performance will be orchestrated to create extra space around each listener," CAP UCLA informs us. "Every other seat in the hall will not be sold, deliberately allowing every audience member to be surrounded by a rich personal acoustic space." At UCLA, Royce Hall; Sat., Dec. 1, 8pm; $15-$45. (310) 825-2101, cap.ucla.edu.
Sat., Dec. 1, 8 p.m., 2012