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The Wagnerian Romances   By: (1863-1961)

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First Page:

[Illustration: THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH OF RICHARD WAGNER]

THE WAGNERIAN ROMANCES

BY

GERTRUDE HALL

NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY, MCMVII

LONDON: JOHN LANE, THE BODLEY HEAD

To

My Friend

JOHN SANBURN PHILLIPS

this book

is

gratefully dedicated.

INTRODUCTION

The attempt has been made in the following to give an idea of the charm and interest of the original text of the Wagner operas, of Wagner's extraordinary power and fertility as a dramatist. It is not critique or commentary, it is presentation, picture, narrative; it offers nothing that is not derived directly and exclusively from the Wagner libretti and scores.

The stories of the operas are widely known already, of course. As literature, however, one may almost say they are not known at all, unless by students of German. The translators had before them a task so tremendous, in the necessity to fit their verse rendering of the master's poetry to extremely difficult music, that we respect them for achieving it at all. None the less must the translations included in our libretti be pronounced painfully inadequate. To give a better, more complete knowledge of the original poems is the object of these essays. The poems form, even apart from the music, a whole beautiful, luminous, romantic world. One would not lose more by dropping out of literature the Idylls of the King than the Wagnerian romances.

CONTENTS

PARSIFAL THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG THE RHINE GOLD THE VALKYRIE SIEGFRIED THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS THE MASTER SINGERS OF NUREMBERG TRISTAN AND ISOLDE LOHENGRIN TANNHAEUSER THE FLYING DUTCHMAN

PARSIFAL

PARSIFAL

I

The story of the Holy Grail and its guardians up to the moment of Parsifal's appearance upon the scene, is we gather it from Gurnemanz's rehearsal of his memories to the youthful esquires, as follows: At a time when the pure faith of Christ was in danger from the power and craft of His enemies, there came to its defender, Titurel, angelic messengers of the Saviour's, and gave into his keeping the Chalice from which He had drunk at the Last Supper and into which the blood had been gathered from His wounds as He hung upon the Cross; likewise the Spear with which His side had been pierced. Around these relics Titurel built a temple, and an order of knighthood grew. The temple, Monsalvat, stood upon the Northern slope of mountains overlooking Gothic Spain. No road led to its doors, and those only could find their way to it whom the Holy Spirit guided; and those only could hope to be so guided, and could belong to the brotherhood, who were pure in heart and clean of the sins of the flesh. The knights were mystically fed and strengthened by the vision of the Chalice which is called the Grail; the duties of the Order were "high deeds of salvation," comprehending warfare upon Christ's enemies, at home and in distant lands.

On the southern slope of the mountain, facing Moorish or heathen Spain. Klingsor had gone into hermitage, in an attempted expiation of evil committed down in the heathen world. What his sin had been, Gurnemanz says, he knows not; but he aspired to become a holy man, he wished to join the brotherhood of the Grail. Finding it impossible to subdue sin in himself by the spirit, he sought, as it were, a mechanical substitute for virtue, by which, however, he failed to attain his object, for his sacrifice called forth from Titurel only contempt, and he was rejected from the Order. He turned all the strength of his rage then to acquiring black arts by which to ruin the detested brotherhood. On the southward mountainside, he created by sorcery a wonderful pleasure palace and garden, in which uncannily beautiful women grew. This lay in the path of the knights of the Grail, a temptation and a trap, and one so effectual that he who permitted himself to be lured into it was lost; there had been no exception, safety lay singly in avoidance... Continue reading book >>




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