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Wagner's Parsifal$
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William Kinderman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780195366921

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195366921.001.0001

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The Sense of an Ending

The Sense of an Ending

(p.252) Chapter 5 The Sense of an Ending
Wagner's Parsifal

William Kinderman

Oxford University Press

Although Robert Morgan found the overall tonal motion of the third-act prelude “circular,” the dynamic aspects of this music deserve recognition, and the rotational formal principle advocated by Warren Darcy is only partly applicable. Following this musical depiction of his “pathless wandering,” Parsifal regains access to the Grail realm, assuming the role of redeemer. The end of Act 3, and especially the death of Kundry, have provoked controversy and diverse approaches to staging from Harry Kupfer, Nikolaus Lehnhoff, and Peter Konwitschny. Kundry’s role as a radically contradictory compound figure expressed through riddling antitheses casts doubt on wholly positive assessments of the utopian conclusion, such as those advanced by Kienzle or Nattiez. Franz Stassen’s depiction of the closing scene reminds us of disturbing aspects of its German reception history, yet Parsifal’s compassionate renunciation and use of the Holy Spear for healing do not convey an aggressive nationalism.

Keywords:   Robert Morgan, Warren Darcy, Rotational form, Harry Kupfer, Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Peter Konwitschny, Ulrike Kienzle, Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Franz Stassen, nationalism

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