The Wagner Journal

Christopher Wintle, Kundry’s Baptism, Kundry’s Death

Christopher Wintle, Kundry’s Baptism, Kundry’s Death

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November 2014, Volume 8, Number 3, 4–18.

Richard H. Bell’s recent Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’ is subtitled ’An Appreciation in the Light of His Theological Journey’, and its cover reproduces bars 608–25 from the work’s third and last act. The passage, much pondered by critics, shows how Parsifal’s ‘first duty’ on his return to the environs of the grail castle is to baptise Kundry and enjoin her ‘to trust in the deliverer’ – Christ – whose personality he has somehow introjected. First the winds and then the strings ‘sing’ the triple-time ‘faith’ music – Wagner’s homophonic response to the polyphonic Palestrina: this is highlighted on the cover in red capitals by the word VERITAS (the name of the book series). Kundry, whose servile role in this act is almost entirely mute, silently bows her head to the earth and ’appears to weep bitterly’. Why?

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