Bayreuth ups security for Islam-themed Parsifal

Katie Wagner has called a security summit with local and national authorities after Uwe Eric Laufenberg, this summer’s Parsifal director, said he was planning an Islamic theme for his production.

Laufenberg denied initial reports that the Flowermaidens would be wearing burkas, only to be stripped naked. He did confirm, however, the connection to Islam – the mere mention of which has sent festival into panic mode.

nadja michael kundry

The notion of an Islamised Parsifal is not, as it happens, daringly original. Nadja Michael (above) wore the burka as Kundry last year at the Colon in Buenos Aires.


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  • Well, in Wolfram von Eschenbach’s text which Wagner used as a source, Parzifal has a Muslim half-brother, Feirefiz…

  • Ah yes, Feirefiz – son of Gahmuret and Belcane, “Queen of the East”. Fascinating insight into the medieval mind that this mixed-race character is described as being “pied”. But he is one of the great heroes of the romance.

  • We’ve got to have something for the scribblers to get incensed about, now that the rats and the waste recycling factory are passé. Can’t wait! (Though I won’t be buying tickets.)

  • Can we be spared having to hear about islam just for a brief second? That plague surely has to be dealt with, but on quite another level, not in an opera house. And why pollute Wagner’s maybe greatest creation in that way?

    • The problem is that in the plot, the south of the mountain is Muslem, and north is Christian:

      “In the territory and fortress of the guardians of the grail, Montsalvat,: a landscape like that of the northern mountains of Spain in the Gothic era. – Then, Klingsor’s enchanted castle on the southern slopes of the same mountain chain, facing the Arab-held portion of Spain.” In the original score. The location of Montsalvat, so close to ‘the enemy’, can be considered, thus, as a somewhat unfortunate choice.

      So: Kundry, Klingsor, and his band of seductrices as Muslems is a perfectly sensible idea of Werktreue. But maybe not such a sensible idea to be worked-out realistically these days.

  • “The notion of an Islamised Parsifal is not, as it happens, daringly original.” Indeed not. The Islamic nature of Klingsor’s realm should be clear to anyone who bothers to read Wagner’s original stage instructions.

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