The Wagnerian Romances

The Wagnerian Romances

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Publié le 08 décembre 2010
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wagnerian Romances, by Gertrude Hall This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: The Wagnerian Romances Author: Gertrude Hall Release Date: November 15, 2008 [EBook #27265] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE WAGNERIAN ROMANCES *** Produced by Robert J. Hall 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 Page 1 Page 3 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. Titurel having reached so great an age that he had no longer strength to perform the service of the Grail, invested with the kingly office Amfortas, his son. The latter undertook at once the removal of the standing danger to his knights, the destruction of Klingsor. Armed with the Sacred Spear, he fared forth.... Alas! even before the walls of the enchanted castle had been reached, his followers, among whom Gurnemanz, missed him. A woman of dreadful beauty had ensnared him. In her arms he forgot everything, he let the Spear drop from his hand.... A great cry, as of one mortally hurt, Gurnemanz relates, was suddenly heard. He rushed to the rescue, and caught sight of Klingsor, laughing as he disappeared carrying the Spear, with which he had wounded Amfortas. And now, possessed of the Spear, it was Klingsor's boast that he should soon be in possession of the Chalice likewise, the Holy Grail itself. And the wound of Amfortas would not heal, and an apprehension was that never could it heal, save at the touch of the Spear which made it. And this, who could conquer it back? Yet the knights were not wholly without hope, for, Amfortas once praying before the despoiled sanctuary, and imploring a sign of pardon, a holy dream-face had appeared to him and delivered the dim but comforting oracle: "Wise through compassion.... The immaculate Fool.... Await him.... My appointed one...." Thus matters stand when the curtain rises for us upon the forest surrounding the Castle of the Grail. The introductory music is wholly religious, composed principally of the so moving phrase of the Last Communion, the Grail-motif and the Faith-music. The latter opens with what has the effect of a grand declaration, as if it might be understood to say: "I believe in God the Father! I believe in God the Son! I believe in God the Holy Ghost!" and fell to worshipping prayer. The grey-haired Gurnemanz and two young boys of the Order are discovered sleeping. At the clarioncall from the Castle, they start awake and kneel at their morning devotions. The lake is near where the sick King is carried daily for the bath. Forerunners