The creative team behind The Royal Opera’s production of The Minotaur, director Stephen Langridge and designer Alison Chitty, bring a new staging of Parsifal to Covent Garden. Parsifal, Wagner’s final opera, was first given at Bayreuth in 1882. For many years, at the insistence of Wagner and then his widow Cosima, performances outside the Bayreuth Festival were banned. This embargo was lifted in January 1914; by August of the same year Parsifal had been performed at more than fifty opera houses throughout Europe.
Wagner loosely based the opera on scenes from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s medieval romance Parzifal. The score contrasts the sacred with the sensual, from the stark magnificence of the music for the procession to the Grail Hall in Act I to the richly orchestrated scene in which Kundry attempts to seduce Parsifal in Act II. There are sections of almost unearthly beauty such as the Act I Prologue, the Good Friday music in Act III, and the closing scene of the opera, in which Parsifal reveals the Grail to the knights.