Cher Public

One touch of venous

“Like the hero of Parsifal, who finds the Holy Grail after a lifetime of frustrated wandering, the Met’s audience was finally rewarded for its patience: On Friday, after seasons of mediocrity, the company delivered a magnificent new production of Wagner’s valedictory work.”  [New York Post]

  • FragendeFrau82

    I found Ivy’s perspective very interesting and appreciated her review. Parsifal continues to be divisive today.

    While Ivy, who is not religious, found it overwhelmingly, assertively Christian, I, as a Christian, found it to be most definitely not Christian. From Wagner’s dodgy theology to the fact that the words Christ and Jesus never appear in the libretto, I was completely put off by his appropriation of the Eucharist for his own dramatic purposes.

    However, the old magician Wagner worked his magic and after listening many times and seeing the current production I’ve become a member of the Parsifal cult. It was the music that did it. And Girard’s production has removed many of the most bothersome (to me) visuals and replaced them with striking alternatives that moved me deeply.

    Again, I really appreciated Ivy’s review. Sometimes we forget that there can be radically different experiences of any work of art! Thank you Ivy.

    • Hi FragendeFrau82, I hope you don’t mind me asking but do you hear any medieval musical influences in Parsifal? To me the final chorus sounds like a Grigorian chant, and the use of the bells and organs also kind of replicates a mass.

      • FragendeFrau82

        I don’t, but I am not all that musically knowledgable. (I have friends who find Gregorian Dies Irae in every movie score) I’m sure someone else will know! I’m afraid I only hear Wagner and that Dresden Amen.

        Which is interesting because the first couple of times I listened to Parsifal I thought that “Amen” repetition would drive me nuts! We sang it every Sunday in my childhood & I was so tired of it. However, now I’ve listened to Parsifal enough that I never even think of the Dresden Amen--instead it’s part of the greater whole of the music.

  • La Valkyrietta

    I’m enjoying following this thread here, thank you all. It confirms my view that this opera is inexhaustible, one could write a book, if someone has not done so already, on the Tao of Parsifal. As Batty Massetto said, it’s a text that richly rewards exploration. Take the theme of the swan, for example, for a change. You know this is Wagner and so a swan is something not to dismiss lightly, and sure enough in the libretto it says “the squires reverently lift the dead swan on to a bier of fresh branches and move away with it towards the lake.”

    I was reading Schopenhauer last night, and here is a section, verbatim, taken verbatim from his “Parerga and Paralipomena”

    “Christianity contains, in fact, a great and essential imperfection in limiting its precepts to man, and in refusing rights to the entire animal world. As religion fails to protect animals against the rough, unfeeling and often more than bestial multitude, the duty falls to the police; and as the police are unequal to the task, societies for the protection of animals are now formed all over Europe and America. In the whole of uncircumcised Asia, such a procedure would be the most superfluous thing in the world, because animals are there sufficiently protected by religion, which even makes them objects of charity. How such charitable feelings bear fruit may be seen, to take an example, in the great hospital for animals at Surat, whither Christians, Mohammedans and Jews can send their sick beasts, which, if cured, are very rightly not restored to their owners. In the same way when a Brahman or a Buddhist has a slice of good luck, a happy issue in any affair, instead of mumbling a Te Deum, he goes to the market-place and buys birds and opens their cages at the city gate; a thing which may be frequently seen in Astrachan, where the adherents of every religion meet together: and so on in a hundred similar ways. On the other hand, look at the revolting ruffianism with which our Christian public treats its animals; killing them for no object at all…”

    Parsifal is not simply a set to music of a story much reworked from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in Christian Europe, though it is that too. Wagner is rich is his libretto. He took a long time to come up with this opera. From his first encountering the guileless fool in literature at the time of Tannhäuser or before, to his idea of the good Friday spell on the garden of the Wesendonck’s. So I would not say “just enjoy the music”, though that is a valid way that one can take, but one is richly rewarded too if one takes to enjoying the story as presented by Wagner. My warning is to not become too much of a fan of Wagner, in the sense of religious fanatics, it might lead to becoming a vegetarian and moving to Paraguay, something that was not much fun to some in the nineteenth century.

    • FragendeFrau82

      While Girard does not have the swan carried off on a bier, the extremely realistic and beautiful swan is treated with great reverence, involving the women. This was one of the things that struck me in the production!

      I have enjoyed going through the libretto and working out my own translation, although I have zero interest in Wagner’s philosophical and religious ideas.

      As Kaufmann repeated in the radio interview he and Pape as native German speakers still had many “discussions” over the libretto and its meaning.

      • Batty Masetto

        Yes, FF, Wagner’s German is just plain weird. For myself, I deal with it by just telling myself it’s an extremely peculiar dialect, and you have to look for the internal evidence to figure out how to interpret it -- just as you do, for that matter with Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Middle High German, which is very peculiar too. Maybe it’s in the subject matter? :)

        (Not really though -- Wagner’s libretto German is always weird.)

        • I wonder whether there’s a suitable word less pejorative than “weird”. How about “sui generis”? Or if that’s going too far, what about “idiosyncratic”?

          Writers and poet regularly re-create the language in which they work -- from the Latin decadents to the artificially-archaic “Chaucer’d English” of the Faerie Queene to the -- well, whatever it is -- of Finnegan’s Wake.

          • Batty Masetto

            I don’t think “weird’ is so far off the mark, Croche. Wagner’s poetry doesn’t have the same degree of linguistic control and concentration that other re-workers of German have -- say, Hölderlin or Kleist or George. In many ways as poetry it’s awkward and stilted and overinflated and gets in its own way. Think of how many different things get called “heilig” and “hehr” and all those exalted adjectives in the Ring for example. The overuse devalues them and almost makes them ironic, and Wagner surely didn’t mean it that way. Vocabulary gets used in grandiose or archaizing senses that nobody but Wagner finds convincing, or is based on a misunderstanding of a historical term (“Minne” for “Liebe,” for example). Word order gets distorted to no particularly useful end. Many native speakers find his poetry extremely off-putting, not so much because it’s difficult to understand, but because it just feels impossibly affected to them. It certainly wouldn’t stand as poetry on its own.

            That said, I think his language does accomplish a lot. Apart from how well it serves the music, the poetry serves the drama, and (though I think this would be contrary to Wagner’s own intentions) it accepts and even invites multiple interpretations, which of course is an immense strength. So the combination of language that can be obscure and sometimes almost lamentable with the insight and richness of the musical and dramaturgical structure of which it forms an integral part does result in a pretty weird product.

          • k0000

            it’s Finnegans Wake—not Finnegan’s Wake

          • … next thing I know, you’ll be telling me that Joyce’s previous novel wasn’t called “Ulysse’s”.

            As for the merits of Wagner’s archaising diction: Batty (as usual) and Faustina (see below) make the fair point that Wagner’s poetry doesn’t fulfill its ambitions and is certainly not top-drawer stuff. To their voices one might add Theo Stemmler, a medievalist who (entertainingly) takes Wagner to task on the same score.

            And yet I don’t have it in me to get too worked up about these shortcomings. This is partly by accident, I suppose: German is not my first language and I don’t spend any time reading real medieval German -- I’m not going to have the same visceral reactions others might. Having spent so many years immersed in the scores, all those instances of tortured syntax, irritating alliteration and obscure vocabulary have lost much of their power to vex me. I’m more enchanted by what Wagner tried to accomplish with his diction -- with his attempt to invent a new-old style of opera poetry -- than disconcerted by the flaws which Batty and others have so ably pointed out. To be sure, Wagner’s poetry looks amateurish set next to Hofmannsthal’s, (and amateurism was both Thomas Mann’s and Theodor Adorno’s diagnosis of the composer’s flaws). But I guess sometimes I can quite enjoy the spirited recklessness of an amateur fired by great ambition. Perhaps I’m too indulgent.

        • Camille

          It’s not really German, it’s Gobbledy-Gook.

          My initial exposure to texts in tedesco was via von Hofmannstahl. When I first encountered Wagner’s jottings I was mystified. Then I realised that was the way he wanted it and got over it and got around it.

          Good to hear that someone at Batty’s erudition level considers it for what it is.

          If anyone REALLY feels like getting offended by Wagner, I heartily suggest Das Liebesmahl der Apostel (The Apostles’ Love Feast) as a grand hors d’oeuvre. Or the text of “a poetic draft”, entitled Jesus of Nazareth, the entirety of which is to be found from pp. 283 -- 340, in a compendium by the same name, as published by The University of Nebraska Press — Lincoln and London — and as translated by William Ashbrook Ellis.

          Even further opportunities (!) for being offended by Wagner are afforded in the text of a scenic draft written for the greatest Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient in Paris in 1841 [Dom Sébastien, much?] and entitled Die Sarazenin “The Saracen Woman”, Opera in Five Acts, found once more in the above volume, pp. 249–276 (sounds like a movie meant for Linda Darnell and Victor Mature, no?). It has enough to rile up everyone who wasn’t already upset by Parzival, or as I am wont to call it, wie Kundry, Fal-par-si.
          Or, my old, old fave, PARCHEESI!!

          Basta, Roberti.

          • as translated by William Ashbrook Ellis”

            Dear Camille,

            I think you may have Donizetti on the brain.

            Yours, &c.


          • Camille

            hahahaha! I could not figure out what you meant, so I referrred myself to the volume whereupon I found my answer: William ASHTON Ellis. Bingo!

            I ALWAYS have Donizetti in my brain but Bellini rules my heart.

      • Camille

        I don’t object to the usage of the word ‘weird’. If one consults the OED, it will soon become clear that it is, taken in the proper context, probably a very exacting choice of words. The OED is too small and fine a print for me to bother reiterating here but each may see for himself. There is also, in the first definition of ‘weird’, much to do with fate, destiny, enchantments, etc., and that, I would conjecture, is wholly appropriate when dealing with a phantasmagoria the likes of Parsifal.

        ‘Weird’, at least in southern California when I was young there, took on quite another sense, the pejorative one m. croche speaks of, and may account for a part of the unsuitability which he feels it holds. (?)

        • Batty Masetto

          True Camille adorée, there’s a certain uncanniness about how language that sometimes is almost gauche can still cast such a spell.

          • Camille

            You’re the expert, Battyissimo, and your missals on Deutscher Sprach and Wagnerianisms are very, very much and greatly appreciated by me and others, in our efforts at slogging through the trenches to understanding him/it.

            Like Beethoven’s Fidelio, a mess to be sure of a text and dramaturgy but what is there to do? The music is worth everything to be endured.

            Pazienza. There’s always Donizetti!

          • Batty Masetto

            Oh Camilly, I don’t think Fidelio is such a mess at all! But we’ll have that conversation next time there’s a production of Fidelio.

          • MontyNostry

            I’m with Cammie on this. Ludwig van B is a f***ing genius, as they say, but Fidelio is all over the place and sometimes embarrassingly naive, though ‘Mir ist so wunderbar’ is sublime as sheer music and ‘Abscheulicher!’ has grown on me over the years.

          • armerjacquino

            I’m staying RIGHT out of this one… ;-)

          • MontyNostry

            Guess you’ve had your Marzelline orders, AJ.

          • Camille

            I think Marzelline must be myopic. Surely, after all that time, she should have noticed Fidelio got bloated once every four weeks….armer Jacquino, indeed! I

            Always wondered if they did indeed get married after all that jubilation jumping around at the end, which I can just barely tolerate. He should have gone up to Madrid and got a job in the corrida instead, and Olé and away with petulant little Marzelline.

          • MontyNostry

            It’s like I always wonder how Matteo feels when he discovers that he has just had sex with his best friend ‘Zdenko’.

          • Bill

            Fidelio is a Masterpiece. The many thousands of Viennese who stood outside the Staatsoper on
            that November 5, 1955 evening when the bombed and burned opera house reopened as they wept during the Prisoners Chorus confirms this.
            The fact that almost every great conductor of the 20th century tackled Fidelio and led
            blazing performances which churned the soul and touched the heart confirms this. The story confirms the strength of a woman in
            rescuing her beloved, a triumph of good over political evil encased in minimal text and glorious music.

          • MontyNostry

            But I have to confess I’m not too crazy about the finale of the Choral Symphony these days either. I think Ludwig lost it a bit when voices were in the mix. But the Missa Solemnis has a certain spaced-out appeal.

          • Camille

            Yes, my Immortal Beloved did lose it when confronting vocal forms. I often wish he would have written a cantilena for voice as beautiful and graceful as some of his those he wrote for piano, which I love so much.

            For all those lessons with Salieri in which he really tried earnestly to grapple with his lack of fluency with vocal line, it just wasn’t in his natural comfort zone and so be it.

            Funny that Unser Bill should mention the Prisoner’s Chorus above as that has become my favourite moment of all the opera and the point at which I always surrender and say ‘I don’t care what it is, I only know I love it’. And quit worrying about all the problem with the score. Fiat lux.

          • armerjacquino

            Aw, come ON. Listen to ‘Komm, Hoffnung’ and then talk about lack of fluency or cantilena.

          • To be fair to Beethoven he started losing his hearing early on, and I’d imagine that for him to compose, the first thing that would “go” would be a natural sense of cantilena, or how the voice should sound in melody. We don’t know how his vocal writing would have developed had he not lost his hearing. On the other hand, I think the natural harmony that Beethoven’s vocal writing lacked is what made his concertos/symphonies/sonatas/quartets so great. The way, for instance, the piano almost competes with the orchestra in #4, or the harsh chords of the Violin Concerto competing against the percussion, is something I’m not sure would have happened had he not lost his hearing, and thus the emphasis on classical harmony that’s so evident in, say, Mozart’s concertos and symphonies. Don’t know if this makes sense, but it’s like when he lost the sense of how things “should” sound, he experimented more and created his own, now famous orchestra/instrumental style.

      • FaustinaHasse

        I write as an innocent fool who had never before followed a complete performance of parcifal. I love the story and the music, but I think Wagner wrote the most imbecilic verses to fit the music. No wonder that performers are arguing about the meaning of specific passages. I listened to the Met webcast of the premiere while following the German libretto. I had to switch to the English translation because otherwise I would have developed an asthma attack laughing my head off. As I had written in the chat room during the webcast the language that Wagner used is beyond silly. Obviously he tried to imitate very unsuccessfully the Middle High German language. So I went back to some poems by Walter von der Vogelweide and Hartmann von Aue. They obviously sound strange to modern ears but never really silly. I know texts always pose a challenge to librettist and composer. But considering how highly Wagner thought of his librettos being part of a Gesamtkunstwerk I can only consider him dilusional. Could it be possible that Wagner involuntarily created controversies by many times putting together meaningless expressions in order to follow the meters of the verses?
        Oh I just noticed that Batty Masetto already wrote a comment along my lines. Pray excuse any redundances.

        • Batty Masetto

          Well, to be fair, Faustina, you probably should have compared it to Wolfram rather than Hartmann or Walter, who write a much more “classical” Mittelhochdeutsch. Wolfram is not exactly crystal-clear, either. Some passages have puzzled Germanisten for centuries now.

          • FaustinaHasse

            Thanks Batty, I am going to look at Wolfram.
            By the way I found this marvel on Youtube:


            Eberhard Kummer sings Nibelungenlied and Walther von der Vogelweide with some nice comments.

            He also performs some lovely songs by Oskar von Wolkenstein, who of course lived much later.

            I wonder what you think of him. He is completely new to me.

          • Batty Masetto

            Faustina, that is simply fascinating! (Though I admit the pedant in me had to get past his semi-Neuhochdeutsch pronunciation.) He’s really on to something, especially with that business of ornamentation. Thank you so much!

            But the second piece he sang, before he got on to Walther, was certainly not Mittelhochdeutsch -- maybe Middle French or Provençal?

          • Orkenise

            The second piece is an anonymous french song “en mai au douz tens nouvel”

          • Batty Masetto

            Thanks Orkenise!

        • FragendeFrau82

          Faustina, you make an interesting point, if I understand correctly--that some of the controversy is inadvertently caused by Wagner’s attempts to imitate older forms, or if Kaufmann is to be believed in a recent interview, even invent words to fit the music (he gave an example but I’ve forgotten it).

          I don’t know, all I know is that I mostly follow the story, and although I’m grateful that I understand German, in the end for me the individual words & whatever philosophical message Wagner is trying to get across are secondary to the singing & acting.

          The English translation of the Schirmer libretto seems to have difficulty even with straightforward things:

          Gurnemanz: Doch adelig scheinst du selbst und hochgeboren:

          This is translated as: Yet you seem eagle too and born most nobly

          The seatback translation said something like: You are eagle-like and nobly born

          SURELY this means : You seem to be noble and highly born.
          (Adel verpflichtet) Why do they stick with the eagle business? Batty? manou?

          • bobsnsane

            My guess is that the eagle is
            an heroic precursor of that Dove…
            (missing in the MET’s current production)
            the Christian symbol of wisdom
            one of a trinity.

          • Batty Masetto

            FF, you’re totally right, and it’s a stupid translation, worthy of Google. My conclusion, and a big warning to all: DO NOT TRUST THE MET TITLES FOR PARSIFAL!

          • Batty Masetto

            PS -- as I’ve said before, I have no objection to bending translations for artistic purposes, but from what I’ve seen here and in the previews, the title translator just didn’t know what they were doing.

          • MontyNostry

            ‘Adler’ is the German word for eagle, but ‘adelig’ definitely means ‘noble’. Maybe there is some etymological connections somewhere, but that’s just a stupid translation!

          • manou

            As I am going to the HD transmission of Parsifal, and I am told under no circumstances to trust the surtitles, could I please have Batty on my left and Monty on my right to interpret and explain. Just write to

            (sorry FraFra -- no German and certainly no mock/archaic/poetic German with built-in recondite meaning).

          • FragendeFrau82

            manou, I am sorry somehow I thought you were Deutsch-sprachig, among your many talents! Anyway I’m not blaming the “Met-titleist” alone, as this is straight from the Schirmer libretto.

          • Batty Masetto

            “Adler” (eagle) grew out of “Adel” (nobility) during the Middle High German period, according to my dictionary. So “noble” was the chicken and the “eagle” was the egg.

            Manou ma belle, I would like nothing better than to be able to sit next to you at the HD. But since that’s a clear impossibility, the next best thing I can suggest is not to take the titles literally. If you do, it sounds like you’ll have the same experience as poor Ivy, who had her essentially positive experience of the production and the music itself ruined because she felt like she was being harangued by Fred Phelps.

            It’s not about Jesus, and not about Christianity. It’s not anti-semitic, anti-woman or anti-sex. It does appropriate symbols from Christianity, which is upsetting to those like Zerbinetta for whom that symbolism holds real meaning.

            There are those who say it’s about art picking up where religion failed. Others say it’s about the quest for salvation. Still others say it’s about finding your own salvation through renunciation of desire and/or compassion for others. Those are some of the viable readings. But it sounds like the titles make it add up to nasty pseudo-Christian propaganda.

          • Batty Masetto

            Whoops, sorry Zerbinetta, it’s Fragende Frau who finds the appropriation offensive.

          • Speaking of eagle-writes, I once noticed (on a particularly boring flight) that one can take the letters of DELTA AIRLINES to make “ADLERS LITANEI”, or “litany of the eagle”. It seemed full of portent at the time, but perhaps that was just the altitude talking.

          • Nerva Nelli

            Also, a quote for those heading to the DREAM world premiere:

            IS DELLER TANIA?

    • Camille

      ‘I’m a broad with a broad, broad mind’will become my next screen moniker.

      Perhaps you will be relieved to know, La Vally, that I do not mistake Miss Rita Hayworth for anyone else, as I once did Dolores Gray, to my eternal shame. I just love that gown and how she works those cascading white panels!

      Thanks, La Vally, for thou art verily one of the pearls of parterre.

      • La Valkyrietta


        You are very welcome. I’m very happy you enjoyed Rita’s ‘Zip’.

        I will never hold against you that you did not know who all the girls were in ‘The Opposite Sex’, as we all have lacunae here and there, or senior moments, and I am happy and most sure, you will never mistake the Gilda of ‘Caro nome’ with the Gilda of ‘Put the Blame on Mame’. :)

        • Camille

          How could I, when I love Put the Blame on Mame ten times more than that sappy old birdsong, Sweetest Name?

          Make sure, while reading Schopenhauer to always have on your reading glasses and a tank of Margaritas nearby. My method.


          • La Valkyrietta


            I’ll think of your recommendation, but I often take my glasses off to read, and on the second Margarita I would probably put down Schopenhauer and play an opera, a musical or a musical review, something like,

            “You’ll be Lucia and I’ll be sextette
            By Don Amice, no Donizetti”.

            Thanks for the advice anyway. Anytime I address you now, I think of a nineteenth century lady playing the piano, a nice image. Cheers.


            Perhaps before going to the HD of Parsifal you should read the libretto in German with a good English translation next to it, Ernest Newman’s would do. That is what some people did in the nineteenth century as Wagner used to publish his librettos (he called them ‘poems’) before the opera was performed, even before the music was written, though he said the musical aura was already in his head. This is probably redundant advice as I strongly suspect you are a great expert on every phrase and musical theme of every music drama of Wagner. In any case, if the Met translates “Die Wunde” as “That Arab cursed me”, that would be a more proper phrase here than where it was used in Rigoletto as the agent who caused of the wound is supposed to be on the wrong side of the Pyrenees, the Arab part of Gothic Spain.

          • manou

            La Val -- first of all let me tell you I am a complete ignoramus about much of Wagner’s music. I do love and know The Ring, Lohengrin, Tannhaüser, and Meistersingers, and I tolerate small doses of the Dutchman, but my previous experiences of Parsifal have not been very….exciting, shall we say. The last (lamentable) production at Covent Garden made me take the vow that I would never go again. Of course, vows are made to be broken, and I now feel that a few years on I should give it another go, hence my Battyless and Montyless (and Valkyriettaless) trip to the HD.

            I shall try to do as you suggest, and may I say I have been greatly interested in the discussions here, and who knows, I might gain from the experience. So thank you all!

            I was tempted to join armer and ivy’s club, but my opinion on joining clubs is the same as Groucho Marx’s.

          • Camille

            Oh La Vally, you are so sweet! I love you almost as much as I do Clita.

            I would like to be remembered that way, so it really pleases me. Thank you a whole bunch.

            love again,
            Camille Moke

  • While we’re discussing Parsifal, has anyone else ever been struck by the thought that if you took the Act III prelude and turned it upside down, you might get something that sounds a bit like this:

    • Camille

      Upside down parsnip casserole. Love it.

      Hey m., your man, Herr Tarushkin, is in town this weekend to lecture on The Rite of Spring. My husband has told all his students to hie themselves there to hear him. We’ll see if they can tear themselves away from their i-phones to go there….

      • Should be a rip-Roerich good time.

        • Camille

          I dunno, m., you know that Stravinsky didn’t write anything NEW>>>>>>

          • Henry Holland

            Schoenberg, five years before Stravinsky got around to writing Le Sacre du Printemps (the first 1:45):

  • Dolciamente Pipo

    Give “Adelaide” a try. One of THE most gorgeous songs.

  • bluecabochon

    Checking in after Act 1 at Parsifal, which was beautiful. It’s nice to see the details from my good seat…the production is spare so every detail is important. Have to walk around now for 20 minutes past everyone chowing down on their brought or bought meals!

    • Rory Williams

      Wish I was there. Glad you are seeing it, and we want full report. I’m listening and with you in my mind’s eye! (Ear’s eye?) Enjoy! Rory

    • Camille

      go to Alice Tully Hall, if you have time and if it is open, blue. Have fun in the second act!!

      • bluecabochon

        Ach, I’m in a parterre box (!) with a woman who thinks it’s all about her! These boxes are the only areas where patrons can enter late, disrupting everything. Talking, changing seats, unwrapping noisy candy… A pox on her for fiddling with a noisy candy wrapper all during Act 2!

        • Camille

          Maybe she has already left for the third act. Many times those kind do.

          At least one can’t hear candy wrappers in this parterre box. I hope you are not sitting in the back row, blue.

          I am missing Levine a lot. Maybe it’ll be different when I go. Don’t know though.

          • bluecabochon

            She behaved herself after a bit of an exchange during the intermission. I just can’t get over some people’s sense of entitlement -- owning box seats means that you don’t have to get there on time? If you own the whole box and are treating everyone in it, then probably yes, you can do what you want and everyone else has to put up with it, but when everyone else is paying, just get there on time or slip into the back seats quietly and sort it all out later. This was my first time in the parterre -- and probably my last.

            Anyway, it was an unforgettable experience, and I usually hate everything they put on.

  • FaustinaHasse

    Batty, m.croce and Fragende Frau
    Sorry Batty, haven’t gotten into Wolfram yet. If his language is as puzzling as you describe his parsifal might be over my head. My hazy knowledge is due only to my German literature teacher in gymnasium, who pounded us with 1. and 2. Lautverschiebung and forced us to recite the gothic Pater Noster and medieval poems by heart. Medieval literature was without doubt his personal hobbyhorse.

    To all of you who felt that my emphasis on Wagners verses diminished the whole opera for me:
    The fact that Wagner was an inadvertently hilarious librettist (in my humble opinion) doesn’t effect at all my appreciation for the dramatic and musical effect of his work. The whole pantheon of beloved operas is littered with similarly awful texts. But none of the other composers pretended to be literary lions, they were men of music who wrote the most beautiful vocal lines following good or bad libretti. But Wagner did consider himself a literary lion! I just enjoy it to let some air out of this puffed up egomaniac.
    Considering the pseudo-religious themes in Parsifal. Most of the 19th century audiences grew up soaked in stories of a mythical medieval world of noble or evil knights, of sinners craving for redemption, of fallen or saintly virginal women. A rather weird Mischmasch of pagan and Christian themes. I assume that very few of Wagner’s admirers in Bayreuth felt more than a vague religious experience. I somehow missed the often recited antisemitic references. Either there are none of them or I was too busy to make sense of the verses. But on March 2 I will see Parsifal in the house and hope by following the libretto to get it.