By Richard Wagner
The legendary Holy Grail is said to bet he dish used by Jesus during the last Supper with his disciples and in which his blood from crucifixion was collected. In a wondrous way, it passed into the hands of Titurel who founded the knighthood of the Holy Grail. Bound to chastity and strengthened by the Grail´s overwhelming wondrous power, this knighthood saw its task in standing by the innocent in distress all over the world. But now the knights themselves are in distress. Titurel´s son, Amfortas, the Keeper of the Grail, having fallen under the spell of a beautiful woman has lost the holy spear to Klingsor, an apostate from the Grail. Seriously wounded by Klingsor, he feels weak and unable to further hold this high office. No art of healing brings him relief, nor do any of the wonder drugs brought from the farthest corners of the Earth by Kundry, the Grail´s mysterious messenger. There is only one possible source of salvation for Amfortas and the knights: >>Made wise by pity, the pure fool!<< Young and impetuous, Parsifal invades the holy district, killing a swan. He is reproached by Gurnemanz, an old knight of the Grail, and is made to recognise his ignorance; nothing does he know of good and evil, nothing of his origin, nothing of the world. Hoping to have found the pure fool, Gurnemanz leads him up into the Temple of the Holy Grail, where Parsifal witnesses the unveiling of the Grail, which is so painful for Amfortas that he nearly dies of suffering. But Parsifal´s pity and compassion haven´t made him wise. Incurring Gurnemanz´s displeasure, he is driven away.
In Klingsor´s enchanted castle, Klingsor calls Kundry who is a willing hand to him too. Again and again he is able to force her to do some evil deed. As once before with Amfortas her task is now that of seduction. Parsifal, who is approaching Klingsor´s castle, is chosen as the next victim; his purity should be made to yield to Kundry´s temptations. So Parsifal finds himself surrounded by Klingsor´s enchanted maidens who seem like beautiful flowers to him. Then he is called by Kundry, now a beautiful woman of beguiling appearance. She ensnares him and kisses him. Parsifal starts from her embrace, losing his ignorance, suddenly knowing Amfortas´ fate. He pushes Kundry away. Never will he belong to her as a lover. He determines to save Amfortas as well as Kundry who, having once mocked Jesus the Crucified, had been placed under a curse. Klingsor flings the holy spear towards Parsifal, but Parsifal catches it. Klingsor´s power is broken.
Gurnemanz finds Kundry frozen to near death in the forest. The two notice a knight approaching in a full suit of armour. It is Parsifal. Having wandered around for a long, long time, he has finally succeeded in getting back to the Castle of the Grail. Gurnemanz tells him how the knighthood is painfully pining away since Amfortas refuses ever to unveil the strength-giving Grail again. Blessed by Gurnemanz, Parsifal baptises Kundry and removes the curse on her. Escorted by them, he then enters the Temple of the Grail. He brings back the holy spear, uses it to treat Amfortas´s wound and takes on the high office of Keeper of the Grail – unveiling the Grail and so giving rise to new hopes.