Motif 24: Lamentations

German name: Mädchenklage

Soundbytes Lamentations (ogg format)

Musical example (von Wolzogen): Motif 24 - Lamentations

In contrast to the outer acts which (in those rare productions that follow Wagner's stage directions although not in those that set the action on the moon, say, or in a giant ashtray) show scenes of nature, the second act is set in the artificial "nature" of Klingsor's magic garden. Here the sorcerer has cultivated his Magic Maidens: they are the lovers of the knights of Klingsor. Unlike the flowers of the natural world, these blooms are playful, quarrelling and seductive.

Parsifal and the Flowers: Bayreuth Festival 2018

This triplet figuration is a decorated variant of motif #4d, the extended form of Suffering: two descending semitones followed by a rising minor third. The notes of #4d are marked in red on the example above. This is introduced over a dotted rhythm which has developed out of the Storm motif.

The new theme represents the Maidens' distress or Lamentations and accompanies them as they run around the garden in confusion. It first appears as a playful figure in the first violins (bar 461) and develops through several variations as the maidens react to the violent arrival of the hero.

At the end of the second act this musical idea is heard twice, augmented, representing the collapse of the flowers as described in the stage directions: the garden withers to a desert; the ground is strewn with faded flowers. The motif is heard for the last time in the third act when Parsifal remembers the laughing flowers: Ich sah' sie welken, die einst mir lachten...

References: von Wolzogen ex.15, Lorenz pp.111, Kufferath ex.32, Lavignac (US edn.) p.459, Bauer pp.77-79.

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