Degenerate Religion and Masculinity in Parsifal Reception

Kennaway, James

The idea that there is something religious about Bayreuth is not new, and goes well beyond cliches about opera houses as the "cathedrals of the bourgeoisie." The words used to describe the festival by Wagnerians and anti-Wagnerians alike have often been consciously religious. One makes a pilgrimage to the holy site, there are acolytes who serve the holy work and the orthodoxy, heretics are excommunicated-the comparisons are all too obvious. Friedrich Nietzsche referred to this phenomenon in a letter to his friend Malwida von Meysenburg when he suggested that "all this Wagnerizing" was "an unconscious emulation of Rome" (Fischer-Dieskau 1974:202). Even in more recent times, after the moral, ideological, and organizational disasters that the festival was caught up in during the twentieth century, the skies above the Festspielhaus were scoured for signs of the white smoke announcing which member of the dysfunctional clan was to succeed the composer's grandson Wolfgang Wagner.


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August 18, 2022