Most recent performance
There are currently no scheduled performances of Parsifal. It was last on stage 30 November—18 December 2013 as part of the Autumn 2013/14 season.
A young man ignorant of everything, including his own name, arrives at the Kingdom of the Holy Grail. Is he the ‘pure fool, enlightened by compassion’, who, it has been prophesied, will purify the kingdom?
The creative team behind The Royal Opera’s production of The Minotaur, director Stephen Langridge and designer Alison Chitty, bring a new staging of Parsifal to Covent Garden. Parsifal, Wagner’s final opera, was first given at Bayreuth in 1882. For many years, at the insistence of Wagner and then his widow Cosima, performances outside the Bayreuth Festival were banned. This embargo was lifted in January 1914; by August of the same year Parsifal had been performed at more than fifty opera houses throughout Europe.
Wagner loosely based the opera on scenes from Wolfram von Eschenbach’s medieval romance Parzifal. The score contrasts the sacred with the sensual, from the stark magnificence of the music for the procession to the Grail Hall in Act I to the richly orchestrated scene in which Kundry attempts to seduce Parsifal in Act II. There are sections of almost unearthly beauty such as the Act I Prologue, the Good Friday music in Act III, and the closing scene of the opera, in which Parsifal reveals the Grail to the knights.
News and features
10 July 2015
Five of our favourite final masterpieces from opera’s greatest composers.
18 December 2014
Stephen Langridge's Royal Opera production of Wagner’s final opera, starring Simon O'Neill, Angela Denoke, René Pape and Gerald Finley.
19 November 2014
Though always a controversial figure, this German composer revolutionized music.
9 January 2014
Mozart's famous anti-hero isn't opera's only irresistible charmer.
19 December 2013
A masterclass from legendary Wagnerian John Tomlinson, a musical introduction from Antonio Pappano, and the creative team on their production.
19 December 2013
Another chance to see the backstage films screened as part of our live cinema relay.
Parsifal (WWV 111) is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach, a 13th-century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival (Percival) and his quest for the Holy Grail (12 с.). Wagner first conceived the work in April 1857 but did not finish it until twenty-five years later. It was Wagner's last completed opera and in composing it he took advantage of the particular acoustics of his Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Parsifal was first produced at the second Bayreuth Festival in 1882. The Bayreuth Festival maintained a monopoly on Parsifal productions until 1903, when the opera was performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Wagner described Parsifal not as an opera, but as "ein Bühnenweihfestspiel" (" A Festival Play for the Consecration of the Stage" ). At Bayreuth a tradition has arisen that there is no applause after the first act of the opera. Wagner's spelling of Parsifal instead of the Parzival he had used up to 1877 is informed by an erroneous etymology of the name Percival deriving it from a supposedly Arabic origin, Fal Parsi meaning "pure fool".