Wagner’s Parsifal: holier-than-thou

Attending the opera Parsifal by Richard Wagner at the Royal Opera in Stockholm on Monday March 28th 2016 was a joy. The singers, the orchestra, the cast and the staging were all wonderful.

However. There was a problem: The libretto. The story. The text.

To show what I mean, I have here collected all instances in the libretto in English where the words ”holy” and ”sacred” (German: ”heilig”) have been used to characterize something. The German libretto would yield essentially the same result.

Act 1

  1. … the sacred lake
  2. Are not beasts sacred here?
  3. Whether you are sacred.
  4. … holy Spear!
  5. … unholiest hand!
  6. … holy Spear
  7. … holy faith
  8. … holy noble goblet
  9. … the sacred relic.
  10. … he wished to atone, even become holy.
  11. A holy vision
  12. … the holy forest
  13. … the holy Meal
  14. … the Holy of Holies
  15. … the holy relic
  16. … holiest blood
  17. … the sacred Cup
  18. In pity’s holy longing
  19. … in holiest office
  20. That holy I may die…
  21. Blood and Body of the holy gift

Act 2

  1. Because I once strived for holiness?
  2. … the guardian of the Holies
  3. … the Holy Cup
  4. The Holy Blood glows
  5. … the holy weapon

Act 3

  1. … the holiest of mornings
  2. … the holy day
  3. … the sacred spring
  4. Which holy day this is?
  5. … the holiest of holies
  6. … his holy blood
  7. … this holiest day!
  8. … the holy relic
  9. The Grail’s holy Spear!
  10. … Holy illustrious miracle!
  11. … his holy office
  12. The holy manna…
  13. … holy wars
  14. … the holy warrior
  15. The holy spring itself
  16. A holy office to perform
  17. … holy dew
  18. … its holy office
  19. … His holy Blood
  20. This holy Spear
  21. Holy Blood…
  22. Highest holy Wonder!

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