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Parsifal

Synopsis

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(Continued)
THE idea of writing an opera on the subject of Parsifal was in Wagner's mind twenty years before he actually set to work on the Doom which, as was his habit with his operatic texts, was written quite apart from the music as a so!f-eontained drama. When it was completed, he brought the MS. to London on one of his visits, and read it to a circle of friends at a house in Orme Square. This reading of Parsifal, divorced from the music, and written, as it was, in Wagner's rather tiresomely alliterative verse, must have been something of an ordeal even to friends. He at once began to set the poem to music. He was then in his sixty-fifth year, and in his sixty-ninth before it was finished and ready for the stage. Parsifal was Wagner's last opera, for a year later ho was dead.
Was there ever a more lovely swan-song! The story of Parsifal, was drawn from several ancient legendary sources. Wagner, in his poem, moulds the legends to his operatic purpose, and the story as ho tells it is briefly this : The Grail has been given into the keeping of Titurol and his Knights. They have, too, the holy spear with which the soldier pierced our Lord's side upon the Cross. Titurol has built a great castle, Montsalvat, to guard these sacred relics against a pagan world and especially against the magician Klingsor, who, with the help of his Flower Maidens and the arch enchantress, Kundry, endeavours to seduce the Knights. Amfortas, son of the old Titurel, has been overcome by the magician's arts, and has been forced to leave in his hands the sacred spear, with which he himself was sorely wounded when Klingsor seized it. Nothing can heal the wound save a touch of the spear, and it has been prophesied to the Knights that only a guileless fool can avail to win it back for them.
Parsifal, our English Sir Percivale, is the guileless Knight who in the end overcomes Klingsor's magic and not only restores the spear to Amfortas's keeping, but wins Kundry to abandon her sorceries and join the service of the Grail, to find death and forgiveness in the last mystic scene when Amfortas is healed, and the radiance of the Grail is shed again ovor its Knights.

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This site contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009. You can search the site for BBC programmes, people, dates and Radio Times editions.

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Feedback about Parsifal, National Programme Daventry, 20.45, 25 March 1932
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