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Did Crowley ever see Wagner's Parsifal performed?  

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belmurru
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15/05/2015 11:11 am  

Did Crowley ever actually see a performance of Wagner's Parsifal?

The symbolism, deeply important to Reuss, also meant a lot to Crowley. One of Crowley’s favourite phrases became der reine Thor – “the pure Fool,” used to describe Parsifal in the opera (“Thor” is more often spelled “Tor”, but perhaps there was a reason for Crowley’s preference); and Richard Wagner is of course a Saint listed in the Gnostic Mass. AC clearly read the libretto, probably in English or French, but referred to the German original for his catchphrases. But did he ever go to Bayreuth when it was being staged? Or, did he see it in some other city?

From the dates of full performances that are posted on various places on the Web, such as here - http://opera.stanford.edu/Wagner/Parsifal/history.html

there seems to be only one date where he was in the right place at the right time: when Parsifal was first performed in Paris, Sunday, 4 January, 1914.

This was at the beginning of the Opus Lutetianum, the Paris Working (31 December, 1913 -12 February, 1914) between workings III and IV (see The Vision and the Voice with Commentary and Other Papers, pp. 365 and 396). Opus III ended in the wee hours of Saturday morning, while Opus IV began on Monday night, and there appears to be no record or diary of what they did on Sunday. So, it is quite possible that he went to the performance of Parsifal. If he did so, it seems incredible that he didn’t mention it.

Also, as a footnote question, Kaczyinski says (p. 253) that Reuss sang in the first performance of Parsifal. But he is not listed in the roster of names at the site above, nor in the poster for the first production  -

Perhaps he was part of the chorus? Wikipedia says it had 135 singers. It also says there were 23 soloists, but the first link above only lists 19 (with two playing double roles, for 21).


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michaelclarke18
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15/05/2015 12:00 pm  

I've seen this opera [live] four times - I'm always amazed that more occultists have either never heard of it, or have limited knowledge of it.


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Markus
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15/05/2015 3:47 pm  

1) The spelling Thor is pre spelling reform of 1902. Most texts floating about in AC's day would still have had this spelling, though post 1902 it is correctly spelt Tor.
2) We know AC saw one of the Ring operas (I think Valkyrie or Siegfried). It stands to reason that he saw Parsifal at some point. Maybe in New York?
3) Parsifal is certainly the most esoteric of Wagner's operas - a perfect destillation of Eschenbach's Parzival. It describes the Great Work, or to be more exact: Netzach. Musically it is not my favourite, but the "transformation music" (Verwandlungsmusik) describes the dolorous stroke so perfectly, you can actually feel it.
4) I forget Reuss' alias as a singer. Anybody know? If so, I could ask at the Wagner museum in Bayreuth whether they have a record of him performing.

Markus


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Shiva
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15/05/2015 4:13 pm  

I never saw that opera (or any opera for that matter, except for one field trip we took when I was in elementary school, circa 1950), but I certainly enjoyed reading ...

THE CHALICE OF ECSTASY
BEING
A MAGICAL AND QABALISTIC INTERPRETATION
OF THE DRAMA OF
PARZIVAL
BY
A COMPANION OF THE HOLY GRAIL
SOMETIMES CALLED
FRATER ACHAD[/align:16w0zs4j]

If anyone missed that book, it can be downloaded from
http://www.thelema.ca/156/People/Achad/The%20Chalice%20of%20Ecstasy/The%20Chalice%20of%20Ecstasy%20-%20parzival.htm


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Los
 Los
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15/05/2015 6:14 pm  

Since it's relevant to the subject of the thread, I'll post here a link to my essay on the symbolic uses to which Crowley puts the opera in his writings: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2013/04/three-cheers-forchastity.html


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belmurru
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18/05/2015 7:29 am  
"Markus" wrote:
1) The spelling Thor is pre spelling reform of 1902. Most texts floating about in AC's day would still have had this spelling, though post 1902 it is correctly spelt Tor.

Thanks, Markus. I didn't know about the spelling reform of 1902. It seems Wagner always spelled it thus "archaically." I can’t find a copy of the 1882 libretto online, but the 1883 Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen von Richard Wagner, volume 10, first and third editions, both read “Thor” (see the end of this post for links to the full texts):


(third edition)


(first edition)

A 1903 German-English bilingual libretto also has the spelling “Thor” –

2) We know AC saw one of the Ring operas (I think Valkyrie or Siegfried). It stands to reason that he saw Parsifal at some point. Maybe in New York?

Perhaps, It does indeed stand to reason. I've thought so too. He had plenty of opportunity, there were eleven performances of it at the Metropolitan Opera during his time there, 1914-1919 (one performance in Boston, by the Met):

In the database of the Metropolitan Opera Society are listed all of their performances -
http://archives.metoperafamily.org/archives/frame.htm
Type “parsifal”

74. 26 November, 1914
75. 1 January, 1915
76. 22 February, 1915
77. 2 April, 1915
78. 25 November, 1915
79. 31 December, 1915
80. 22 February, 1916
81. 21 April, 1916 (at Boston Opera House)
82. 30 November, 1916
83. 1 January, 1917
84. 6 April, 1917

German repertoire stopped in 1917, after the declaration of war against Germany.

“Some houses had abandoned German repertoire during the war, and the speed with which it was reclaimed depended conjointly on pre-war levels of interest and post-war sentiments. In New York, the strong Wagner tradition prevailed with little interruption. The American declaration of war was actually heard by the Metropolitan Opera audience on April 6, 1917 – Good Friday – partway through a performance of Parsifal. German repertoire was cut at this point, but Wagner returned to the Metropolitan stage in 1920 with Tristan, albeit sung in English. Parsifal also returned in 1920, like Tristan, sung in English, in a new production designed by Joseph Urban.”

(Katherine R. Syer, “Parsifal on Stage”, in William Kinderman and Katherine R. Syer, eds., A companion to Wagner’s Parsifal (Camden House, 2005), p. 297)

The Met list gives the date of the new English Parsifal as number 85. 19 February, 1920

Although he might have seen it, then, I can find no indication from Rex de Arte Regia or Liber LXXIII that he did. Just like for Paris in 1914, the record is silent. Maybe there is some offhand reference in some of his fiction that would indicate it; I have read through what I have from the International and The Fatherland, but I haven't come across any references to him having attended a performance of Parsifal.

3) Parsifal is certainly the most esoteric of Wagner's operas - a perfect destillation of Eschenbach's Parzival. It describes the Great Work, or to be more exact: Netzach. Musically it is not my favourite, but the "transformation music" (Verwandlungsmusik) describes the dolorous stroke so perfectly, you can actually feel it.

I'll make the pilgrimage one day to Bayreuth.

4) I forget Reuss' alias as a singer. Anybody know? If so, I could ask at the Wagner museum in Bayreuth whether they have a record of him performing.

Thanks, please do so. I'd be interested in learning more.

Books -

GSD10 (1883) p. 424
https://archive.org/details/gesammelteschrif10wagn

GSD10 (3rd ed.), p. 328
https://archive.org/details/gesammeltesc910wagn1871

Frederick Corder, Henrietta Louisa Corder, Charles Henry Meltzer, Bilingual of 1903, pp. 6-7
https://archive.org/details/parsifalfestival1909wagn


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Alan_OBrien
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08/05/2020 10:19 am  

There was a book on Parsifal (the opera) released yesterday.

Wagner's Parsifal: The Music of Redemption

 9780241419694

This short but penetrating book, by a writer who was uniquely both a leading philosopher and musicologist, shows us how Wagner achieves this profound work, explaining the story, its musical ideas, and their coming together into a sublime whole which gives us the musical equivalent of forgiveness and closure. There are few writers who can so enhance our understanding of one of the greatest works in western music.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd 
ISBN: 9780241419694 
Number of pages: 208 
Weight: 405 g 
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 23 mm

Price: £20.00

I read a very enthusiastic review, which said that a huge amount is squeezed into the 200 pages.

Sir Roger Scruton is as dead as a doornail, now.


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gravunity
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10/05/2020 1:29 am  
Posted by: @alan_obrien

There was a book on Parsifal (the opera) released yesterday.

Wagner's Parsifal: The Music of Redemption

 

This short but penetrating book, by a writer who was uniquely both a leading philosopher and musicologist, shows us how Wagner achieves this profound work, explaining the story, its musical ideas, and their coming together into a sublime whole which gives us the musical equivalent of forgiveness and closure. There are few writers who can so enhance our understanding of one of the greatest works in western music.

I read a very enthusiastic review, which said that a huge amount is squeezed into the 200 pages.

Sir Roger Scruton is as dead as a doornail, now.

Indeed he is. But good shout though, I'll get it ordered. As an aside, I only watched the stage production of Parsifal on DVD about a week ago for the first time and by crikey, it was hard going. My schoolboy German occasionally worked but even with subtitles, if you don't have a reasonable idea what's going on in advance, it might all be a bit bewildering (and then some). YMMV. Having read Symonds' Great Beast did at least mean I'd heard of Klingsor, Amfortas and Kundry;-)

93'z et al,

G.


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lashtal
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10/05/2020 12:28 pm  
Posted by: @alan_obrien

Sir Roger Scruton is as dead as a doornail, now.

Strange way to describe it, but, yes, he passed away in January of this year. His 'The Ring of Truth: The Wisdom of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung' (published in 2016) was excellent.

Owner and Editor
LAShTAL


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hadgigegenraum
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10/05/2020 7:34 pm  
Posted by: @los

Since it's relevant to the subject of the thread, I'll post here a link to my essay on the symbolic uses to which Crowley puts the opera in his writings: http://thelema-and-skepticism.blogspot.com/2013/04/three-cheers-forchastity.html

yes the essay by Los is very good!  Thanks


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christibrany
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11/05/2020 8:04 pm  

@hadgigegenraum

 

REPORT REPORT
He said Los did something good. 😉 


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Shiva
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12/05/2020 12:28 am  
Posted by: @christibrany

He said Los did something good.

Thelema and Skepticism
Three Cheers for...Chastity?
by Los

I'm sorry, neither hearsay nor heresy are acceptable as eve-dance or evi-dunce/.


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Shiva
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12/05/2020 1:47 am  
Posted by: @markus

1) The spelling Thor is pre spelling reform of 1902. Most texts floating about in AC's day would still have had this spelling, though post 1902 it is correctly spelt Tor.

Regarless of modern spellings, we all (on both sides of the pond) have a Thor's Day (Thursday) in our lives, every week.

 


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