Il Lamento di Tristano is a set of variations on two themes that are in highly contrasting styles. Rodriguez juxtaposes fragments from Wagner's opera, Tristan and Isolde, with a 14th-century monophonic dance, Lamento di Tristano. The work opens with the two themes combined in a florid cantillation led by the flute over passionate Spanish guitar strumming. The original Medieval theme follows in a seductive dance-like setting in keeping with the melody's arabesque character. The ensuing variations explore the work's central dramatic conflict: Wagner's lush chromatic harmonies vs. the modal simplicity of the original Medieval Lamento. The two themes gradually merge as a synthesis is reached.