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Parsifal DE - 1882 1*
Richard Wagner 1813 - 1883 DE 3*
First performance at Bayreuth Festspielhaus on 26 July 1882
Synopsis - Roles - Arias
German libretto - Italian translation - English translation - Spanish translation
Upcoming Performances
Background Facts - Top
  • Wagner's last opera is a "festival play" about the legend of the Holy Grail.
  • When this opera from Wagner is performed at the Bayreuth Festival there is a tradition that there is no applause after the first act.
  • Wagner's will and testament is a strange and enigmatic work in which he condenses his moral idea of the world and returns to the roots of love and religion – to the very heart of art according to him.
Synopsis - Top
Act 1
Scene 1: Forest near a Lake
The knight Gurnemanz awakes at the Montsalvat to prepare a bath for the suffering Amfortas. The angry magician Klingsor has stolen Montsalvat's Holy Spear and used it to pierce Amfortas's side. Gurnemanz recalls a prophecy that "an innocent fool enlightened through compassion" will save Titurel's son, Amfortas. When a "sacred swan" falls dead, its killer, a young man, Parsifal, is presented to Gurnemanz. The man, unaware of his own identity, is surprised when a pagan woman, Kundry, knows about his past. Gurnemanz takes Parsifal to the hall of the grail castle.

Scene 2: Temple of the Grail
The knights enter the hall. They hear Titurel's voice telling Amfortas to present the grail that it may again feed the knights who are present. Weary and pained that he can hardly present the grail, Amfortas begs his father, Titurel, to do it, but the old king is too weak to do it. Only the grail keeps Titurel alive. Amfortas then presents the grail, the knights are fed and they depart. Parsifal just watches and remains mute in response to Gernemanz's questions. Disgusted and annoyed with the boy's simple-mindedness, Gurnemanz sends him away.

Act 2
Scene 1: Klingsor's Enchanted Castle
Meantime, Klingsor uses his magic to command Kundry to seduce Parsifal, reminding her that it was she who seduced Amfortas. They watch from the ramparts as Parsifal fights his way into the castle. The tower sinks into the ground, replaced by the magic garden.

Scene 2: Klingor's Gardens
The Flower Maidens are in the castle's margin garden. A man admires the maidens but he rejects their tempting advances. Kundry appears calling him Parsifal and explains that Parsifal's name comes from "fal-par-si", meaning "foolish pure one". She tells him that his mother died of a broken heart when he deserted her. Parsifal is overcome by remorse, but when Kundry kisses him he remembers Amfortas's wound and pushes her away. Impressed by the boy's purity, Kundry reveals that her sin was to mock the Redeemer. She has asked for forgiveness, but when it is offered her, she keeps repeating her sin. Klingsor attacks Parsifal with the holy spear, but the spear does not harm him. Kundry curses Parsifal who takes the spear and makes the sign of the cross. The castle falls and the garden withers.

Act 3
Scene 1: A Landscape near the Temple of the Grail
Gurnemanz, worn and old, discovers Kundry, asleep among the bushes and wakes her. Parsifal appears in black armor. Gurnemanz chides him for wearing weapons in the holy forest on Good Friday. When Parsifal removes his armor, he and Gurnemanz recognize each other. In his attempt to return the spear, Parsifal is continually led astray by Kundry's curse. Meanwhile, the brotherhood has withered away since Amfortas refuses to present the grail. Gurnemanz announces that Titurel is dead. Kundry washes Parsifal's feet and dries them with her hair. Parsifal forgives Kundry. Gurnemanz leads Parsifal to the hall of the grail.

Scene 2: Temple of the Grail
Titurel's funeral is in progress. Amfortas has agreed to present the grail one last time and prays for death. Parsifal appears and cures Amfortas with a touch of the holy spear. Parsifal, the new guardian of the grail, presents it. Kundry drops to the ground, lifeless.
Roles - Top
AmfortasBaritoneM-L Ruler of the Grail kingdom. Son of Titurel.
TiturelBassM-VL Founder of the Knights of the Grail. Amfortas' father
GurnemanzBassM-VL A veteran Knight of the Grail
ParsifalTenorM-M An "innocent fool"
KlingsorBassM-VL A vengeful magician
KundrySopranoF-H A heathen healer
Grail Knight 1TenorM-M
Grail Knight 2BassM-VL
Esquire 2SopranoF-H
Esquire 1SopranoF-H
Esquire 3TenorM-M
Esquire 4TenorM-M
Flowermaiden 1SopranoF-H
Flowermaiden 2SopranoF-H
Flowermaiden 3SopranoF-H
Flowermaiden 4ContraltoF-L
Flowermaiden 5ContraltoF-L
Flowermaiden 6ContraltoF-L
Voice from AboveContraltoF-L
Arias - Top
Prelude 1*