Gabriel's Oboe Ennio Morricone
Get to know Wagner's musical search for the Holy Grail with our synopsis of the 1882 opera, and pictures from the recent production at the Metropolitan Opera, starring Katarina Dalayman, Jonas Kaufmann, Peter Mattei, Evgeny Nikitin and René Pape.
The curtain rises in a forest near the castle of the brotherhood of the Holy Grail. Gurnemanz, an old knight, and two esquires perform their morning prayers, as the other knights prepare a bath for Amfortas, who suffers from an incurable wound. Picture: Peter Mattei as Amfortas, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.
A mysterious, ageless woman, Kundry, appears with medicine for Amfortas. According to a prophecy, he can only be healed by a 'pure fool, enlightened by compassion'. Picture: Katarina Dalayman, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Gurnemanz tells the story of Amfortas’s wound. His father, Titurel, was given the Holy Grail and the spear which pierced Jesus' side, and assembled a company of knights to guard it. Picture: René Pape, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Klingsor, angry after being rejected from the brotherhood, built a castle with a magic garden full of alluring women to attract the knights away. He's responsible for stabbing Amfortas with the spear. Picture: Evgeny Nikitin, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Suddenly a swan plunges to the ground after being shot with an arrow by a young man. The man is ashamed, but can't explain his actions or even speak his name. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Titurel uncovers the Holy Grail so the sight of it might give the men strength. The nameless youth looks on, and Gurnemanz, the old knight, drives him away as an unseen voice repeats the prophecy that Amfortas can only be healed by a pure fool. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Klingsor summons the mysterious Kundry to seduce the young fool. Photo: Evgeny Nikitin, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
The nameless youth enters Klingsor’s magic garden, full of entrancing women. Kundry approaches, disguised as a young woman, and addresses him by name: Parsifal. She seduces him by reminding him of memories of his childhood. Photo: Richard Kaufmann, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Parsifal suddenly feels Amfortas’s pain, realising it was Kundry who was responsible for his downfall. He now knows it's his mission to save the brotherhood of the Grail. Photo: Jonas Kaufmann, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Kundry curses Parsifal to wander aimlessly. The magician appears and hurls the holy spear at Parsifal, who miraculously catches it in midair, causing Klingsor’s realm to perish. Photo: Katarina Dalayman and Jonas Kaufmann, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Gurnemanz finds Kundry exhausted in the forest. After years of wandering, Parsifal tells of how he tried to find his way back to Amfortas. Photo: Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape and Katarina Dalayman, Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Luckily, Parsifal comes back at just the right time - Amfortas has refused to uncover the Grail, and Titurel has died. Gurnemanz blesses Parsifal and proclaims him king. Photo: René Pape and Jonas Kaufmann, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Parsifal baptises Kundry ahead of Titurel's funeral. Photo René Pape, Jonas Kaufmann, Katarina Dalayman, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Parsifal touches Amfortas' side with the spear and heals the wound. The Grail is uncovered, and the reunion of the Grail and spear saves the community. Photo: Peter Mattei, Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera