a Cycle of Flower Songs (2 – Wagner)

Friedrich Nietzsche tried to show the world that he could defy the friendship of his “other self,” Richard Wagner, by declaring his own irreverent preference for Don José’s lust over Parsifal’s abstinence, by proclaiming the spell of the bullfight mightier than that of Good Friday.

In Act II of Wagner’s last opera, the voluptuous Flower Maidens caress Parsifal, invite him to their magic garden of sensual delights (“Komm, komm, holder Knabe!”/Come, come, handsome boy, I’ll be your flower) and even the Tristan Chord is heard but the youth resists their alluring attentions.  In his magisterial film Parsifal (1982), Hans-Jürgen Syberberg paints their promise of erotic pleasure with a lush Pre-Raphaelite palette.  The “guileless fool” escapes but is transfixed when Kundry calls him by the long-forgotten name his protective mother, “Herzeleid”/Heart’s affliction, gave him in his dream — “Parsifal.”

Pantelis Polychronidis too would seek doom rather than chastity but the mother’s voice, calling his name that only she knows, would stop him on his tracks.  Lover and mother are played by the same actress.

May 12, 2015

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