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Calling Parsifal a sequel or an extension of the Ring is a bit of an oversimplification of the matter. Keep in mind that Wagner wrote the first scenario for Parsifal in 1845, years before he had started work on the Ring. The truth is there are certain central themes that preoccupied him and reoccurred in various forms throughout all of his works: redemption, the nature of love, and heroes that arrive from an inexplicable elsewhere and who at first at odds with the existing social order, but whose antagonism is eventually overcome often by some wise father-figure who are able to understand and forgive. As Schofield goes on say in the article posted, there were also rather large parallels in Wagner's own mind between Tristan and Parsifal; writing to Mathilde Wesendonck Wagner said "Suddenly it has become hideously clear to me: Amfortas is my Tristan of Act III in a state of inconceivable intensification...", and he actually toyed with the idea of bringing Parsifal into the third act of Tristan where lost in his wanderings he brings a temporary solace.

If we step back I think a broader question Wagner was trying to address as an artist was the meaning of life in a post-religious world. Wagner took a profoundly religious view of the human condition. His aim in all the mature works was to give credibility to the thought that we are rescued by our ideals, despite their purely human origin, and also because of it.

This article on the site ThinkClassical, Parsifal: A Theology After the Death of God, gives an overview of many of the ideas and influences that were behind these artworks, and brings to light some of the important connections between Parsifal and The Ring.

For those not incline to read the entire essay, here are a few selections:

The question becomes what has become of God in Wagner's Parsifal, and why he is never once evoked as the source of salvation. Even the final salvation in Parsifal is neither granted deus ex machina by a supernatural intervention of the grace of God, nor the miracle of the Resurrection, but comes of a humanistic enlightenment through an awakening of universal compassion for suffering of a kind more akin to the Buddhist concept of karuṇā. The final salvation in Parsifal can be read as the futility of appeals to the supernatural intervention of a God-King
In short, come Parsifal, the anthropomorphic personal God-King of traditional theology is already dead....The question becomes, how, in Wagner's previous oeuvre leading up to Parsifal, this came about.

What has happened in Wagner is that the anthropomorphic God has been consumed in the flames of the "mighty fortress" of Valhalla at the climax of Götterdämmerung. For "a mighty fortress is our God"-"ein feste Burg ist unser Gott". Nor is this interpretation of Wagner at all original in that George Bernard Shaw already says this in his book The Perfect Wagnerite when he calls Wotan the Godhead. This might be considered alarming to religious conservatives, but there is good evidence for the remarkable insightfulness of Shaw's interpretation.
Götterdämmerung is a celebration of the apocalyptic downfall of the dominion over the world of the God of war over humanity in a way that expresses a yearning for peace, and freedom from the endless sanctification of war by organised religions that demand endless blood sacrifice to the Abrahamic Wotan-something that remains as relevant today as it was in Wagner's own day
In Parsifal...Salvation comes from a humanistic source, through compassion. And for Wagner, Jesus is human, and the salvation of Christ, a humanistic salvation through the universal awakening of compassion for the suffering of our fellow humanity. Jesus and the anguish He experiences during his crucifixion become humanistic symbols of universal suffering and awakening to the need for compassion. Indeed, even the Koran acknowledges Jesus as the Prophet of Love.
 

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Calling Parsifal a sequel or an extension of the Ring is a bit of an oversimplification of the matter. Keep in mind that Wagner wrote the first scenario for Parsifal in 1845, years before he had started work on the Ring. The truth is there are certain central themes that preoccupied him and reoccurred in various forms throughout all of his works: redemption, the nature of love, and heroes that arrive from an inexplicable elsewhere and who at first at odds with the existing social order, but whose antagonism is eventually overcome often by some wise father-figure who are able to understand and forgive. As Schofield goes on say in the article posted, there were also rather large parallels in Wagner's own mind between Tristan and Parsifal; writing to Mathilde Wesendonck Wagner said "Suddenly it has become hideously clear to me: Amfortas is my Tristan of Act III in a state of inconceivable intensification...", and he actually toyed with the idea of bringing Parsifal into the third act of Tristan where lost in his wanderings he brings a temporary solace.

If we step back I think a broader question Wagner was trying to address as an artist was the meaning of life in a post-religious world. Wagner took a profoundly religious view of the human condition. His aim in all the mature works was to give credibility to the thought that we are rescued by our ideals, despite their purely human origin, and also because of it.

This article on the site ThinkClassical, Parsifal: A Theology After the Death of God, gives an overview of many of the ideas and influences that were behind these artworks, and brings to light some of the important connections between Parsifal and The Ring.

For those not incline to read the entire essay, here are a few selections:
Excellent observations. Parsifal was certainly not a sequel to the Ring, but it did for the first (and, obviously, last) time in Wagner's works offer a reasonably satisfying resolution to the problems that occupied him - specifically, it gives an answer to what, at the end of the Ring, remained a question. Which is not to say that Parsifal doesn't raise questions of its own!

Wagner's rejection of the authoritarian Jehovah who demands sacrifices and commands genocide and war is perhaps even more directly represented in the "Christian" Titurel than in the pagan Wotan. Those who object to Wagner's presentation of Christianity in Parsifal are not entirely off base, but the opera does not so much distort Christianity as condemn it. It is a work as disturbing as it is sublime, and it really is an incredibly potent act of subversion by the "sorcerer of Bayreuth."
 

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There's the exquisite Parsifal music and then there is all other Wagnerian music.
There is Wagnerian music and then there is all other music.
 

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I don't think so. The Russian word is "Yuródivïy," which is often translated as "Simpleton" or "Idiot." But I have read that a more accurate translation to English is "Holy Fool." There is much written about this "Holy Fool" in Boris Godunov. I'd have to look it up again, but I am pretty sure the Simpleton was considered a holy man. That is why he could call out Boris and not be dragged off to torture.
Which ties in to Dostoevsky's The Idiot, in which the epileptic Prince Myshkin is essentially a holy fool. That book predates Parsifal, though I don't know whether Wagner was familiar with it.
 

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So, I happen to be listening to Parsifal today (Karajan, 4CD), and it strikes me, on first impression, as being more like Rhinegold than Gotterdamerung.
 

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In what way? ..........
To my admittedly uninformed ears, it feels more organic and self-contained than Gotterdamerung, which reaches back to the earlier operas to bring back a wealth of themes, musically and dramatically. And maybe that is also what I am feeling, the relative calmness of Rhinegold rather than the dramatic resolution of Gotterdamerung. But I am probably just blathering.
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
Well, there must be something that makes a connection for you.

I get a strange connection every time I hear the opening note for Act II Vorspiel of Gotterdammerung I think of the opening note of Act II in Fidelio.
 

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In listening this morning to Tannhauser (Solti-Decca), I am also a bit surprised (though perhaps I should not be) to hear a number of moments that remind me of moments in The Ring. (I suppose it should not be unreasonable for anyone composing so much music to occasionally draw a little deeper from an old well.)
 

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In listening this morning to Tannhauser (Solti-Decca), I am also a bit surprised (though perhaps I should not be) to hear a number of moments that remind me of moments in The Ring. (I suppose it should not be unreasonable for anyone composing so much music to occasionally draw a little deeper from an old well.)
Composers are bound to sound like themselves. In operas by most composers you could transfer whole arias from one opera to another and no one unfamiliar with the works would be the wiser. What strikes me about Wagner is not the resemblances between works but the way he creates a distinctive sound world for each one, even for the separate operas of the Ring.
 
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