Friday, August 8, 2008

Wagner's Anti-Romance: Parsifal

Combine equal parts of superstition and sanctimony and what do you get? A loathsome and possibly toxic cocktail known as a Parsifal. Having shown us how cold and merciless Heaven could be in Tannhauser and Lohengrin, and given us a great romance, i.e. a tale of love, sex and violence, Tristan and Isolde, oh yes and the intellectual confusion of The Ring, Wagner must have thought he had something to atone for; perhaps he also thought he might be losing his audience. But what do I know? Nietzsche hated it as the Mt. Everest of hypocrisy (not his exact words) but thought the music sublime, which I guess it is. No doubt the superstitious and sanctimonious Germans of Bismark's new Reich found it intoxicating.

How I wish Saul Bellow's Herzog had finished his great work on Romanticism and Christianity!

1 comment:

  1. The music of PARSIFAL is what matters. The plot by itself makes no sense and is of no interest. Once the plot and the music are joined, the opera moves—and moves us. Without the music, not a soul in the world would know about the plot today.

    Music and plot may join to form an opera, but they rarely are equal. In the case of Wagner's plots, they are may have meant something to the composer, but for the audience they are simply gimmicks to give the singers words for their arias.