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Parsifal
Parsifal act 2 in the recent Met production

29 Aug. [1865]

Suddenly the youth springs up with an expression of utter terror. With this kiss a dreadful change has taken place in him: he puts his hand to his heart; all of a sudden, he feels burning there the wound of Anfortas; hears rising from deep within him, Anfortas' lamentation. "The wound! The wound is bleeding here! Miserable one, and I could not help you!" To the horror and amazement of the beautiful woman, he gives her a cold stare: the mysterious events seen at the Grail Castle now claim him entirely; transferred wholly into the soul of Anfortas, he feels Anfortas' enormous suffering, his dreadful self-reproach; the unspeakable torments of yearning love, the unholy terrors of sinful desire, even there, beholding the wondrous Grail, permeated by the gleam of its sublime ecstasy, annihilated by the Divinity of its world-redeeming balm. He invokes the Grail, the Pure Blood of the Redeemer: he hears the Saviour's cry for the relic to be freed from the custody of besmirched hands: and he himself has experienced this monstrous suffering, he himself has witnessed the agonies of the guilt-stricken man: to his innermost being there has been a loud appeal for deliverance and he has remained dumb, even fled, wandered, child-like, dissipating his soul in wild, foolish adventures! Where is there a man as sinful and wretched as he? How can he ever hope to find forgiveness for his monstrous neglect of duty? -

Poul Elming as Parsifal and Linda Watson as Kundry

The woman, amazed and lost in passionate admiration, seeks vainly to silence him. He sees her every gaze, hears her every word, as if from Anfortas' soul; this is how the wretched woman looked, this is how she spoke, this is how she wrapped her arms around his neck; these are the fearful agonies he has had to bear away with him as his prize! "Corrupter, depart from me!" Now the woman's soul blazes with insane desire. "Cruel one! If you feel the agonies of others, then feel also mine! In you I am to find deliverance, in you alone to die! For you I have waited through eternities of misery: to love you, to be yours for one hour, can alone repay me for torments such as no other being has ever suffered!" -

Parzival : "You will be damned, with me, for eternity if for a moment I forget my mission in your arms! I have been sent for your salvation also. Madwoman, do you not realise that you thirst is only increased by drinking: that your desire is extinguished only through its frustration?" All the torments of the human heart lie open to him: he feels them all and knows the only way of ending them. The woman: "So was it my kiss that made you see clearly? Oh, you fool! Embrace me now with love, so shall you be God himself this very day. Take me for just one hour to your heart and let me be damned for eternity! - I want no deliverance: I want to love you!" Parz. "I shall love and deliver you if you will show me the way to Anfortas." She rages. "You will never find it. Let the fallen one perish." He persists. She demands as payment an hour of love. He repulses her. She beats her breast, calling madly for help. She is still powerful enough, she says, to lead him astray so that he will never find the Grail Castle: she curses the tracks and paths!

Michael Kutter as Parsifal

Klingsor appears on the tower of the Castle: armed men rush in: Parzival recognises the spear with which Anfortas had been wounded, and wrests it from the knight: "With this sign I banish you all! As the wound that this spear once made shall close, let everything here perish, and its splendour fall in ruins!" He brandishes the spear: the castle collapses with a frightful crash; the garden withers to a desert. Parzival, from afar, gazing back at Kundry, who has collapsed screaming: "You know where you can find me again!" He hastens away through the ruins.


Kundry in the ruins - Bayreuth 2008

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