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03. April 2015

Parsifal

Bühnenweihfestspiel (»A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage«) in three acts by Richard Wagner


Sung in German wit surtitles
Pre-performance lecture 45 minutes prior to each performance (in German)

Introductory matinee on 22 MARCH 2015
  • Synopsis

    ACT ONE
    The all-male order of the Grail Knights lives in a forsaken location, subjecting
    themselves to a life of strict asceticism and giving up their former
    lives for the holy service. They believe they can achieve immortality.m
    Gurnemanz tells the younger members of the brotherhood the story of
    the founding and the rise of the community, founded many years ago by
    Titurel. Since its founding, Titurel has been the guard of two relics, the
    chalice from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper and the spear
    used to wound him on the cross.
    Titurel’s son Amfortas was wounded in a fight against Klingsor, who was
    driven from the brotherhood and since then has been seeking vengeance
    against the Grail Knights. The reason for Amfortas’ defeat, according to
    Gurnemanz, was his passion for a beautiful woman that Klingsor sent
    him. Klingsor stole the holy spear and injures Amfortas with a wound
    that refuses to heal. Since then, Amfortas has been suffering inhumane
    tortures.
    Kundry brings a miraculous balsam, she tries everything to ameliorate
    Amfortas’ suffering. But the wound, according to prophecy, can only be
    healed by a “pure fool, enlightened by compassion.”
    The Knights take a foreign youth, who has shot a swan, prisoner, and
    Gurnemanz scolds him for his deed. The youth cannot provide any information
    about himself: he doesn’t even know his own name. He only
    remembers his mother, with whom he lived in the forest and whom he
    left behind. Kundry explains to him that his mother is dead, and the news
    shocks the young man.
    Gurnemanz hopes to have found the “pure fool,” and introduces him to
    the brotherhood. Parsifial partakes in the holy rituals. Titurel calls on his
    son to complete the ritual, which causes Amfortas great suffering every
    time. Amfortas is tortured not just by wound, but even more by an awareness
    of his sin.
    The Grail Knights believe that this ritual is the only thing that nourishes
    them and keeps them alive.
    But Parsifal does not understand what he sees, and Gurnemanz dismisses
    him.

    ACT TWO
    Klingsor, who was driven away by the Grail Knights and is therefore seeking
    vengeance, has created a realm of his own, where he lives with many
    women, his countless daughters, the Flower Maidens.
    In constant war with the Grail Knights, he tries anything to discredit them
    and destroy the brotherhood.
    Klingsor asks his daughter Kundry help him: she should seduce Parsifal as
    she once seduced Amfortas. Parsifal should lose his purity, so that he is no
    longer a danger for Klingsor. Kundry refuses in despair.
    Parsifal approaches Klingsor’s realm. The Flower Maidens surround Parsifal
    and play their boisterous games.
    Kundry asks the maidens to leave her alone with Parisfal. She calls him
    by name, reminds him of his past, tells him of his mother, how much
    Herzeleide loved her son, how she suffered from his departure and finally
    died without seeing her son once more. Parsifal thinks he is guilty of his
    mother’s death and despairs.
    To comfort the distraught Parsifal, Kundry opens her arms to him. Horrified
    by the passion he suddenly feels, Parsifal tears himself from Kundry’s
    arms, frantically recalls Amfortas’ wound and screams that now such a
    wound burns within him.
    Kundry tries to free Parsifal of his confusion, but he is possessed by the
    idea of freeing the grail from Amfortas’ sinful hands.
    Kundry asks for understanding and compassion, but Parsifal rejects her
    in anger and disgust, calling her a whore and a reveler. To stop Parsifal,
    Kundry cries out for help.
    Klingsor rushes in to strike Parisfal with the spear that gave Amfortas
    his wound, but Parsifal rips the spear from Klingsor’s hands and destroys
    Klingsor and his realm.

    ACT THREE
    Many years have past.
    The order of the Holy Grail has disintegrated. Old Titurel has died. The
    Knights no longer gather for Holy service, the Grail lies hidden in its
    shrine.
    Gurnemanz suffers greatly from what has happened, and has left the
    community.
    Suddenly, he finds Kundry lying unconscious on the floor. Gurnemanz
    awakens her. Kundry is full of humility, she has come to serve.
    A stranger appears. Gurnemanz and Kundry fail to recognize him as
    Parsifal.
    Parsifal is carrying the holy spear with him. Gurnemanz triumphs: the
    prophecy has been fulfilled, the sacred relics have been returned, and the
    brotherhood can rise again with Parsifal as its leader.
    The Grail Knights meet for Holy service, and due the death of his father,
    Amfortas promised to take up the suffering one last time. But suddenly
    he refuses, and asks for death as the only redemption from his suffering.
    Parsifal returns the lost spear to Amfortas.
    Dmitri Tcherniakov