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Richard Wagner 1813—1883

Sacred stage play in 3 Acts
Libretto by the composer
First performed July 26 1882, Festspielhaus, Bayreuth

Sung in German with German & English surtitles
Introductory talks (in German) begin in the Holzfoyer 30 mins before curtain up and appear here shortly after opening night

There's a chamber music concert at 11am on June 8 inspired by Parsifal

Amfortas, leader of the Knights of the Grail, was wounded when he lost the Holy Spear to Klingsor, a wound, that won’t close.

As long as he does his duty and reveals the Grail, Amfortas can’t die. Kundry, a two-faced individual, serves the knights; she procures medicine to alleviate his pain, but it has little effect. Then Parsifal appears, committing sacrilege by shooting down a swan in this hallowed region. Gurnemanz rebukes him, then starts wondering: Could the young hothead be the promised »innocent fool«, who could bring salvation to their community? If so Parsifal would have to become »knowing through compassion« first. He meets Kundry, now a seductive woman, in Klingsor’s magic realm. Can he beat Klingsor and take the speer from him, the only thing that can close Amfortas’ wound?

Richard Wagner wrote his last work for the Festspielhaus he designed in Bayreuth, which opened in 1876 with his Ring des Nibelungen. He continued using Leitmotivs, as in the Ring, but differently. Whereas in the tetralogy, as in earlier operas, the plot was often influenced by violent conflict and dramatic moments of truth, the events in Wagner's »taking leave from the world piece« unfold in a different time frame, the music transcending the pseudo-religious setting by penetrating worlds no composer ever dared bring to the operatic stage before.