Something else! I want a very beautiful and exceptional cover - for my chaise-longue - which I shall call "Judith"! - Listen! try and find one of those silk fabrics called "Lampas" or - whatever? Yellow satin background - the palest possible - with a floral pattern - roses; not too large a design, it is not intended for curtains; it is used, rather, for small pieces of furniture. If there is nothing in yellow, then very light blue. [Footnote: same white background, which will be easier to find.] I shall need six metres! - All this for mornings well spent on Parsifal. This is an Arabian name. The old troubadours no longer understood what it meant. "Parsi fal" means: "parsi"- think of the fire-loving Parsees - "pure"; "fal" means "mad" in a higher sense, in other words a man without erudition, but one of genius ...
Letter from Richard Wagner to Judith Gautier, 22 November 1877. Lettres à Judith Gautier 65-7.
Above: Mlle. Judith Gautier à la Fourberie, 1883-85, J.S.Sargent. © Musée Jean Faure, Aix-les-Bains, France.
But now to more serious matters: first of all, the two chests which have not arrived. Well! They will arrive, and I shall immerse myself in your generous soul. Cancel the pink satin entirely: there would be too much of it, and it would be good for nothing. Can I expect the two remnants that I mentioned in my last letter? - The brocade can be reserved: I'm inclined to order 30 metres, but perhaps the colours can be changed to flatter my taste even better; in other words: the fawn striped material would be silver-grey, and the blue my pink, very pale and delicate... For the rest do not think ill of me! I am old enough to indulge in childish pursuits! - I have three years of Parsifal ahead of me, and nothing must tear me away from the peaceful tranquillity of creative seclusion...
Letter from Richard Wagner to Judith Gautier, 18 December 1877. Lettres à Judith Gautier 78-80.
The little bottle of rose-water was completely ruined by cold water; and in my clumsiness I dropped the larger bottle as I was trying to arrange it with the alcohol: it broke, and its contents went all over the carpet; what really surprised me was how little effect the smell had, since I would have expected it to give me 1000 headaches! - Send me some more of it. - And don't forget the Rimmel Bengali rose-powders. - But- above all - be so kind as to let me know immediately and in a word if you have found the lilac satin (Ophelia!) since my decision to buy it depends upon your answer. Dearly beloved! I have finished the 1st act; you shall have a sample of it as soon as I have dealt with a whole host of other matters which I have neglected of late ... Cosima continues as ever before filled with feelings of admiration and gratitude towards you on account of the Japanese dress and all the other things you have chosen for her. Would to God that our traditional quarrels on the subject of poor Parsifal might be over and done with! Believe me, they are not worth the effort...
Letter from Richard Wagner to Judith Gautier, 6 February 1878. Lettres à Judith Gautier 94-6.
ttached to a page of Cosima Wagner's Diary for 1877 is
a watercolour drawing with the caption:
All this has led to a long correspondence between him and Judith, during which it had unfortunately become clear that even the best of French people cannot overcome certain limitations! For instance, Judith cannot believe that it is impossible to translate Parsifal into French! But of course they do not know the other thing!
Cosima Wagner's Diary entry for 24 December 1877.
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