Richard Wagner’s last and most enigmatic opera PARSIFAL takes its hero on a quest which leads from the mysterious but decaying community of the Grail, through sexual awakening in Klingsor’s magic garden, towards transformation of the soul and rebirth of the devastated land.
PARSIFAL was the only opera composed for the special acoustic and ambiance of the Bayreuth Festival Theatre. Today, it reaches a global audience, but it specially benefits from being played by a great orchestra such as the Wiener Philharmoniker and sung by the world’s leading singers.
Wagner based his opera is on Wolfram von Eschenbach’s PARZIVAL, a German romance written early in the 13th century, but applied his own fusion of Buddhist and Christian and 19th century philosophy to the ancient story.
Parsifal is the ‘pure fool’ chosen for the task of restoring the broken community of the Grail and releasing its wounded leader Amfortas from suffering. He is guided by the faithful Gurnemanz but more ambiguously educated by his encounters with the wild Kundry, part witch, part temptress, who initiates him into a dangerous world of new experiences, from which he learns compassion.
It has become a tradition, in Vienna as elsewhere, to perform PARSIFAL at Easter, the Christian festival of renunciation and sacrifice which leads to resurrection and new life; but Easter also marks the coming of spring and reflects pagan metaphors for renewal and revelation. Wagner’s sublime music embraces intense human suffering and transcendent beauty.
Adam Fischer conducts the production, based on Christine Mielitz's staging, during the Easter season 2016 in Vienna. Stephen Gould sings the title role, alongside Michael Volle as Amfortas and Violeta Urmana as Kundry, with Falk Struckmann assuming the role of Gurnemanz for the first time.