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A revolutionary production of Parsifal in Bayreuth triumphantly confronts the politics that have tainted Wagner's legacy

By Martin Kettle   September 2008

A postmodern Parsifal

Wagner’s Parsifal is unlike any other stage work. For a start, no opera has had a more intimate performance bond with a particular theatre than Wagner’s final work has with his own Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was written with the unique acoustics and technology of the Festspielhaus in mind, was premiered there in 1882, was copyrighted to Bayreuth for the first 30 years of its existence, and retains its specially potent association with the festival.

Wagner also endowed Parsifal at Bayreuth with a unique pretention, designating it a “sacred stage festival drama.” He made it clear that he…

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