Author Topic: Wagner's Parsifal  (Read 81706 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #180 on: July 28, 2015, 09:55:23 AM »
Why doesn't Parsifal just bonk Kundry in Act 2? I mean what happens when he kisses her that turns him into Jesus?

What if she's a god-awful kisser?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Lisztianwagner

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 5599
  • Wo die Macht der Worte endet, beginnt die Musik.
  • Location: Italy
  • Currently Listening to:
    Classical Music; Wagner, Liszt, Mahler, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, J. Strauss, Tchaikovsky, R.Strauss, Ravel, Sibelius, Chopin, Holst, Prokofiev, Debussy, Shostakovich, Nielsen, Dvořák, Schoenberg and Zemlinsky. And many more......
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #181 on: July 28, 2015, 10:06:29 AM »
Parsifal's music is great, even by Wagner's standards, and libretto is crap, even by Wagner's standards. Or so I've often heard told.

Strangely,though, I never had problem with Parsifal's libretto, IMO Wagner's prose style has been much worse (for ex. Tristan is at times utterly incomprehensible). The main fault I find with Parsifal's text is Wagner trying to be clever by insisting that "Fal parsi" is Arabic for "pure fool", thus the reason he changed Parzival to Parsifal. It's not Arabic. It's gibberish. Then there is also Gurnemanz's stupid parting comment to Parsifal at the end of Act 1. On the most part, however, it really captures me.
Wagner based that idea on Joseph Görres' edition of Lohengrin, where there was the erroneous hypothesis for the etimology of the name "Parzival" that made it come from the Arabic "fal parsi", meaning "pure fool"; so he decided to change Parzival/Perceval into Parsifal. Tannhäuser is also a similar case of mistakes in the sources, since Wagner, reading about the Minnesingers and the song contest at Wartburg, took inspiration from legends telling Tannhäuser and Heinrich of Ofterdingen were the same person.

Out of curiosity, where would Tristan be incomprehensible, for example?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2015, 10:17:31 AM by Lisztianwagner »
"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy." - Ludwig van Beethoven

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #182 on: July 28, 2015, 10:15:42 AM »
Wagner based that idea on Joseph Görres' edition of Lohengrin, where there was the erroneous hypothesis for the etimology of the name "Parzival" that made it come from the Arabic "fal parsi", meaning "pure fool"; so he decided to change Parzival/Perceval into Parsifal. Tannhäuser is also a similar case of mistakes in the sources, since Wagner, reading about the Minnesingers and the song contest at Wartburg, took inspiration from legends telling Tannhäuser and Heinrich of Ofterdingen were the same person.

Most interesting, thanks, Ilaria!
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline jochanaan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 4700
    • Musician, Music Instructor and Piano Tuner
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #183 on: July 29, 2015, 06:39:23 AM »
Why doesn't Parsifal just bonk Kundry in Act 2? I mean what happens when he kisses her that turns him into Jesus?

These are the things which make me suspect that Parsifal is a load of codswallop.
Some have suggested that there are homosexual overtones in Parsifal.  I can see their point; only one female lead (but Kundry has some of the best vocal writing in any Wagner opera!), and Parsifal ends up rejecting her.  Mad King Ludwig would have approved; probably he did approve. :laugh:
What if she's a god-awful kisser?
That does not describe the live Parsifal I saw at the Met; Jon Vickers and Christa Ludwig shared as intense a stage kiss as I've ever seen. ;D Hey, maybe THAT was the trouble; she was just too good for Parsifal's repressed homosexuality! :laugh:
Imagination + discipline = creativity

Offline Wendell_E

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1146
  • Location: Mobile, AL, USA
  • Currently Listening to:
    mostly opera and chamber music
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #184 on: July 29, 2015, 08:31:04 AM »
Some have suggested that there are homosexual overtones in Parsifal.

Well, right after Parsifal gets that kiss, he does sing out a guy's name.  Poor Kundry!
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1966
  • Huge fan of 19th and 20th century art.
  • Location: Finland
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #185 on: July 30, 2015, 01:38:24 AM »
Out of curiosity, where would Tristan be incomprehensible, for example?

Pretty much any time Tristan and Isolde sing after drinking the love potion. But I actually misshaped my previous post when I mentioned Tristan as an example of worse prose style in Wagner: in some odd way I actually like the incomprehensibility of it, it gives it much more mystery which kind of fits in Wagner's music (which obviously is superior to text, but many masterpieces in literature would have hard time competing with it). I was more trying to draw attention to it's incomprehensibility (which, like I said, I strangely like) than it being actually a bad libretto. The symbolism of the text may or may not actually mean that much but I really like that effect. In particular the part in Act II from "O sink hernieder" to Kurwenal's entrance has great symbiosis with the text.

Well, right after Parsifal gets that kiss, he does sing out a guy's name.  Poor Kundry!

"Oh, yes, yes, yes! You're amazing, Amfortas - I MEAN KUNDRY!"
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1966
  • Huge fan of 19th and 20th century art.
  • Location: Finland
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #186 on: July 30, 2015, 03:30:02 AM »
These are the things which make me suspect that Parsifal is a load of codswallop.

Do you like the music?
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 18865
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #187 on: July 30, 2015, 04:05:00 AM »
Do you like the music?

Yes, I think so, it's so long since I last heard it I can't be confident. The last time I heard it was in the 1990s with Abbado in The Edinburgh Festival - a bit disppointing in fact.  I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it again, with an interesting production.

I never liked Klingsor's music, or indeed Act 2 until Parsifal arrives. I used to love the final scene.

In Nike Wagner's book she talks about a Robert Wilson production which emphasises the isolation of each character, each character trapped in his own neurotic obsessions. Amfortas isolated in his pain, Gurnemanz in the past, in memories, Kundry in some sort of idea of service . . . That comment made me think that there's a way of presentlng it which is really fresh and rather exciting. And one which brings it closer to more modern dramas like Pelleas, even Wozzeck.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 04:17:51 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Online San Antone

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 8201
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #188 on: July 30, 2015, 04:30:07 AM »
Yes, I think so, it's so long since I last heard it I can't be confident. The last time I heard it was in the 1990s with Abbado in The Edinburgh Festival - a bit disppointing in fact.  I certainly wouldn't mind seeing it again, with an interesting production.

I never liked Klingsor's music, or indeed Act 2 until Parsifal arrives. I used to love the final scene.

In Nike Wagner's book she talks about a Robert Wilson production which emphasises the isolation of each character, each character trapped in his own neurotic obsessions. Amfortas isolated in his pain, Gurnemanz in the past, in memories, Kundry in some sort of idea of service . . . That comment made me think that there's a way of presentlng it which is really fresh and rather exciting. And one which brings it closer to more modern dramas like Pelleas, even Wozzeck.

I have liked the productions by Robert Wilson I've seen, a lot; I think his approach would suit this work quite well.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 04:32:50 AM by sanantonio »

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #189 on: July 30, 2015, 04:49:35 AM »
Pretty much any time Tristan and Isolde sing after drinking the love potion. But I actually misshaped my previous post when I mentioned Tristan as an example of worse prose style in Wagner: in some odd way I actually like the incomprehensibility of it, it gives it much more mystery which kind of fits in Wagner's music (which obviously is superior to text, but many masterpieces in literature would have hard time competing with it). I was more trying to draw attention to it's incomprehensibility (which, like I said, I strangely like) than it being actually a bad libretto. The symbolism of the text may or may not actually mean that much but I really like that effect. In particular the part in Act II from "O sink hernieder" to Kurwenal's entrance has great symbiosis with the text.

Most interesting, thanks.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7941
  • Raoul Dufy, "Tragédie, Comédie"
  • Location: La Villa y Corte
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #190 on: July 30, 2015, 04:50:04 AM »
. . . That comment made me think that there's a way of presentlng it which is really fresh and rather exciting. And one which brings it closer to more modern dramas like Pelleas, even Wozzeck.
I find it surprising that you don't see Parsifal as a "modern" drama...I think it's very modern (for its time and for ours)...in the way the characters are delineated--with all their contradictions--, in the way the ideas are presented (like them or not, that's another issue). And musically, I'd say it's groundbreaking; as the respected Spanish critic José Luis Téllez once stated, the prelude anticipates not only La Mer, but even Stockhausen's Momente.

A good friend of mine says that to a certain extent, Parsifal absorbs the history of western music, not only of what came before it, but also a good chunk iof what came after it. Sounds extreme as an opinion, but I do think he has a point...
« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 04:53:10 AM by ritter »
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« …tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #191 on: July 30, 2015, 05:01:27 AM »
Do you like the music?

You didn't ask me, but . . . even though I started out my awareness of Parsifal via a band transcription of the Good Friday music (to which I formed no great attachment as a result, so that for long decades my feeling towards the opera was an arguably ill-informed meh) . . . it was Parsifal which got me at last listening to Wagner's music, or I should say, to an entire Wagner opera, with that degree of sympathy which, face it, any music (even great music) needs in order to communicate with the listener.

The thin edge of the wedge for me was this Abbado recording:



And the recording I have of the complete opera is Levine conducting, from this box:



I got this box for $63, seven years ago, and it's available for even less now.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1966
  • Huge fan of 19th and 20th century art.
  • Location: Finland
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #192 on: July 30, 2015, 05:21:59 AM »
Interesting, Karl! I actually have wondered a bit at times whether you like his music or not. IIRC (please correct me if I'm wrong), you mentioned in some thread that you can't stand the fanboys who unconditionally worship every single thing the guy ever wrote (which actually includes some of the most disgraceful and hateful prose ever written). I agree with you in that case and feel actually ashamed by remembering that I was bit of a fanboy myself when I first arrived on this forum. Okay, even back then I (of course) didn't like his racist essays except as interesting curiosities to how low a human being can go while still writing some amazing music as an artist. He's still probably my favorite composer but I do acknowledge nowadays that his operas do have longueurs. Wagner's music has been compared to a drug so I guess when I discovered Wagner as a teenager, I had my share of acid trips after all. Teenagers often being ruled by their emotions, I guess it is no wonder Wagner's emotional music took over my mind and turned me into a fanboy for a certain period of time.
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

- Victor Hugo

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #193 on: July 30, 2015, 05:28:13 AM »
No worries!  I do understand the intoxicative power of Wagner at his best (and the narcotic properties at his weakest  8) ) . . . there have always been "bits of Wagner" which I have admired unconditionally;  I think the first two pieces I knew of his, were the Ride of the Valkyries (which, perhaps strangely, I found myself rather mixed about even at an early age, and probably without any "cultural baggage" weighing it down when I first heard it) and the Prelude to Die Meistersinger, which absolutely won me over first I heard it as a young teenager.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 18865
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #194 on: July 30, 2015, 06:35:44 AM »
I find it surprising that you don't see Parsifal as a "modern" drama...I think it's very modern (for its time and for ours)...in the way the characters are delineated--with all their contradictions--, in the way the ideas are presented (like them or not, that's another issue). And musically, I'd say it's groundbreaking; as the respected Spanish critic José Luis Téllez once stated, the prelude anticipates not only La Mer, but even Stockhausen's Momente.

A good friend of mine says that to a certain extent, Parsifal absorbs the history of western music, not only of what came before it, but also a good chunk iof what came after it. Sounds extreme as an opinion, but I do think he has a point...

At the back of my mind is this idea, which may be nonsense, I don't know. That in a lot of Wagner, including Parsifal, there's a mediaevalism which to me reeks of the 19th century. The Arts and Crafts movement, pre Rapaelites, that sort of thing.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #195 on: July 30, 2015, 06:39:43 AM »
At the back of my mind is this idea, which may be nonsense, I don't know. That in a lot of Wagner, including Parsifal, there's a mediaevalism which to me reeks of the 19th century. The Arts and Crafts movement, pre Rapaelites, that sort of thing.

That was one of the modes of the day, one likes it or (since you use the word reeks) one does not.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online ritter

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 7941
  • Raoul Dufy, "Tragédie, Comédie"
  • Location: La Villa y Corte
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #196 on: July 30, 2015, 06:53:28 AM »
At the back of my mind is this idea, which may be nonsense, I don't know. That in a lot of Wagner, including Parsifal, there's a mediaevalism which to me reeks of the 19th century. The Arts and Crafts movement, pre Rapaelites, that sort of thing.
I can understand that point of view, but am convinced that the medievalism (e.g. Parsifal) or mythical elements (e.g. the Ring)  in Wagner are not goals in themselves, but only means to tell stories and ideas (I insist, the fact of liking them or not is an altogether different issue) which are open to all sorts of different interpretations (and have been doing so for generations, which means there must be something to them). I think Wagner in some way trascends the 19th century, something the pre-Rapahelites for instance don't achieve, and remain "dated".
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« …tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Offline Mandryka

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 18865
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #197 on: July 30, 2015, 09:03:45 AM »
I can understand that point of view, but am convinced that the medievalism (e.g. Parsifal) or mythical elements (e.g. the Ring)  in Wagner are not goals in themselves, but only means to tell stories and ideas (I insist, the fact of liking them or not is an altogether different issue) which are open to all sorts of different interpretations (and have been doing so for generations, which means there must be something to them). I think Wagner in some way trascends the 19th century, something the pre-Rapahelites for instance don't achieve, and remain "dated".

Yes, I can see that. In Parsifal we have a text to decode, and there is no correct interpretation. Maybe The Ring and Tristan too. That makes his work different from Verdi I suppose, and more like Kafka.

Another modern aspect is to do with using the medium to work on problems, to explore  moral and philosophical problems. I know Shakespeare did that, but I don't think 19th century people did that so much, though I could be wrong there. Dickens, Tolstoy and George Elliot had moral things to say, but their works were about leading us to answers, rather than showing the problem for all its intractable-ness(?) Contrast Shakespeare in Hamlet. Wagner's like that in The Ring and maybe elsewhere, and then it happens all the time in 20th century literature - Joyce, Proust, Döblin, Mann, maybe Broch.


« Last Edit: July 30, 2015, 09:06:02 AM by Mandryka »
Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 64440
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, D. Scarlattii, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Martinů, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #198 on: July 30, 2015, 09:06:13 AM »
Yes, I can see that. In Parsifal we have a text to decode, and there is no correct interpretation. Maybe The Ring and Tristan too.

Is that "modern," or is it Author's Disorganization?  8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Florestan

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 24492
  • Location: Bucharest, Romania
Re: Wagner's Parsifal
« Reply #199 on: July 30, 2015, 11:42:52 AM »
Some have suggested that there are homosexual overtones in Parsifal.  I can see their point;

Well, given that Richard Wagner abhorred the opposite sex and was/is famous for not having a single known affair with a woman, their point might be spot on indeed...
"I’ve always said music should make you laugh, make you cry or make you think." - Kenny Rogers