"Parsifal" is at its heart another rousing Wagner fairytale. There are magic objects and a clueless youth who yearns for his mother and doesn't know his father. Unlike the pagan myth of the Ring, however, the Christian component of this fairytale equates sex not with liberating love but with bloody uncleanness. The knights and the female worshippers are always separate. Blood soaks Amfortas and his helper knights and contaminates the holy spring's stream in Act. I because he had embraced a female. In Act II at blood-coiffed sorcerer Klingsor's castle, the unclean "flower maidens" pole dance on spears, their costumes soaking up the red pools on the floor. Blood appears under Kundry as she tries to seduces Parsifal.

Then in Act III,Parsifal sings "I was appointed for deliverance but deliverance escapes me, lost in hopeless error!" Was Wagner blaming the progress-obstructing myth of man's guilt?: Much thought and theatrics, all cloaked in magical music performed beautifully. RF