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Parsifal

29 Aug. [1865]

Ringing of bells, men's voices from afar. - Gurnemans: The hour is come: midday, as before. Follow me." Parzival, armed by them both, solemnly takes up the spear and, with Kundry, follows Gurnemans. - As the singing swells and the sound of the bells grows louder, the scene gradually changes as in Act 1. In the corridors - processions of knights dressed in mourning. Nearer at hand - lamentations for the dead. - A funeral procession. - Then, back in the Great Hall. Dirges sung by bass, tenor and soprano voices: in place of the table before the baldachin, the catafalque. Enter procession of knights: from the other side, Anfortas on his sick bed, behind Titurel's coffin: in front, the shrine containing the Grail. Dim twilight. With all in their places, the lid of the coffin is opened - a violent burst of lamentation: Anfortas raises himself from his sickbed under the baldachin. Such is his despair that he condemns the knights for wishing to force him to work the magic of the Grail, here, in the sight of the father he has killed! His wound, since the ending of reanimation by the Grail, has moved fatally close to his heart: another day, perhaps, and death will be certain. Why this fearful cruelty of forcing him to live? - Again he refuses. Attempts to compel him. Muttering and threats from the knights. Anfortas: "Madmen, with what will you threaten me, when death is my deliverer?" -

Image: Poul Elming as Parsifal Poul Elming as Parsifal in the Royal Danish Opera production, directed by Harry Kupfer. ©Royal Danish Opera.

Then Parzival steps forward. "Live, Anfortas, live in repentance and atonement. Your wound I close thus:" He touches Anfortas' thigh with the spear. Parzival goes on to describe to him his suffering, his error, his inner agony: from all shall he now be delivered: the magic spell to which you succumbed is broken: strong is the magic of him who desires, but stronger it that of him who denies. "Thanks be to your suffering: it has made me a fellow-sufferer; I can perform the Office, and shall, so that you may be delivered!" -

Anfortas, suddenly healed, has taken and elevated the Grail from its shrine: the Grail now gleams in full brightness; a halo is spread all around; Titurel rises from his coffin and gives his blessing. Anfortas leads Parzival to his place beneath the baldachin: - Kundry embraces Parzival's feet and silently, sinks lifeless before him. A white dove descends from the dome and circles above Parzival. - Anfortas on his knees before him in homage. -

Richard Wagner, 30 August [1865]


Closing scene of Parsifal
The closing scene of Parsifal as designed by Paul von Joukowsky.


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