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Shelob and the Mother of the Matrix


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Kundry fails to seduce Parsifal. What Wagner then wrote should happen is that Kundry calls upon the black magician, Klingsor, to kill Parsifal with the Holy Spear, but when Klingsor throws it, the Spear hovers above Parsifal's head. Parsifal then makes a sign of the cross with it, and Klingsor's evil magical kingdom collapses in ruin. Parsifal is then free to make his way to the Grail kingdom, to heal the wounded Amfortas with the Holy Spear, but Kundry curses him and says, no matter which road he takes, he'll never find a road or path that takes him to the Castle of the Grail. 


In this very unusual, updated modern production, recently from May 2021 in Vienna, Klingsor has already thrown the spear at Parsifal and fails to destroy him. Kundry then threatens to kill Parsifal with a hand gun, but just as she's about to pull the trigger, Parsifal looks her straight in the eyes... she unexpectedly turns the gun on the black magician, Klingsor, and shoots him dead instead!


Parsifal, played by Jonas Kaufmann, has a tattoo on the back of his hand, but I can't make out what it is. That's certainly not in the score, but it its theatrical... not a real tattoo.



Edited by RobSS
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In the following quote, from Astrid Varnay's autobiography, "Fifty-five Years in Five Acts", (pp. 116-117), the singer/actress discusses the character of Kundry and gives some interesting insight into Kundry's innermost being, which was one of her many roles on the world's international opera stages:


"Kundry's sexuality, without love or even a modicum of affection, is like a narcotic. The more Kundry indulges, the more she desires. Parsifal's unexpected rejection drives her to frenzy, to the extent that her mental processes become incoherent. Finally, she confuses feelings and remembrances, and even goes so far as to believe that Parsifal is the One she had laughed at. She begs and pleads with him to "unite" with her for her salvation. Parsifal's denial drives her to form of madness. The effect is like drug withdrawal. The person goes through hell until he or she is healed.


To make matters even more complicated, Kundry has become a kind of schizophrenic, unaware of one manifestation of her personality while she is locked in the other. In act 1, despite her not realizing she had been at fault in seducing Amfortas, she also has an inner compulsion to atone, like someone on a pilgrimage to a scared shrine, moving up and down the stairs on her knees. And for all the services she renders, she insists on being spared any form of gratitude. "Ich helfe nie," is her response to the thanks of others, "I never help." The reason for this is her belief that gratitude will nullify the validity of the help she has given, and this would mar the selflessness of her acts. It's a very life-negating attitude toward what are basically simple virtues."



Astrid Varnay as Kundry



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