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Holy Grail and Holy Spear in Wagner's Parsifal

NOA Community Centre (Ferry Centre)
Summertown, Oxford

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Wagner's Parsifal is the journey of an awakening soul towards compassionate self-awareness and understanding for the world's underlying suffering. As a wild simpleton who blunders into the land of the Grail, Parsifal fails to grasp and react to the meaning of the Grail ceremony and its link to the suffering of Amfortas, the Grail king. In this talk, Anthony Negus will focus particularly on the symbolism of the Holy Spear, which pierced the side of Christ on the cross. It subsequently became separated from the Holy Grail in which the blood and water flowing from His side were collected. Misused by Amfortas, the spear was the weapon that, in the hands of the magician Klingsor, inflicted upon Amfortas an incurable wound, which only the pure fool gaining knowledge through compassion could heal. Significantly, the instrument of this healing is the same sacred spear that inflicted the wound, but now held in the compassionate hands of Parsifal. Through this deed, the Holy Grail and the Holy Spear can once again be reunited.

Anthony Negus's special enthusiasm for Wagner's Parsifal developed through visits to Bayreuth in the 1960's. After four years in German Opera Houses, he joined the Welsh National Opera where he has played and conducted many operas, particularly Mozart, Strauss and Wagner. In March 2006, he conducted Parsifal for the Wellington Arts Festival (New Zealand Symphony Orchestra). As well as his musical interests, he has a long term fascination with the work of Jung, and has lectured to the Guild of Pastoral Psychology on the archetypal symbolism in Wagner's Parsifal. His talk tonight will be illustrated with excerpts from the opera, which will be screened tomorrow afternoon.

For background on Parsifal refer to the very useful website at

6.00 (Friends 3.00)