Isolde seems unaware of their presence.  With her eyes fixed on Tristan, she imagines she sees him smiling, and begins the process of sinking into her own oblivion.  She sings the words, “Mild und leise wie er lächelt,” (Gently and softly he is smiling), the opening words of Isolde’s Liebestod (Love-Death).

Isolde sinks down onto Tristan’s body, mystically uniting with him in death.  The music contains motifs representing Isolde’s emotions, touches on music from the Act II love duet, and near the end, is dominated by the “Ecstasy” motif.  In the final moments of the opera, the unresolved opening motifs of the Prelude (“Longing” and the “Tristan chord”) are, at long last, brought to musical completion. The lovers and the listener are at peace.

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