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Versuch über Kundry

Facetten einer Figur


Chikako Kitagawa

Thema des Buches ist Kundry, die weibliche Hauptfigur in Richard Wagners Spätwerk Parsifal (1882) und eine singuläre Gestalt der Operngeschichte. Als Grenzgängerin und in sich Zerrissene findet sie – zwischen Schrei, Lachen und Verstummen – zu verstörend neuen Artikulationsformen an den Rändern des Sagbaren. Ziel der Autorin ist es, das Vielgestaltige, stets wieder Beunruhigende der Kundry-Figur aus verschiedenen Perspektiven zu beleuchten, ihre Vorbilder zu erhellen, die in mythische Fernen zurückweisen, sowie ihre Fortschreibungen in der verschlungenen Rezeptions- und Inszenierungsgeschichte des Werkes zu erkunden. Dank der ihr innewohnenden Dynamik wird Kundry zum geistesgeschichtlichen Paradigma: zu einer Schlüssel- und Schwellenfigur zwischen Romantik und anbrechender Moderne.
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Experiment on Kundry – Facets of a Character

Experiment on Kundry – Facets of a Character



Multilayeredness and dynamism are inherent to the figure. In a singular way Kundry, the central female figure in Wagner’s late work Parsifal (1882), illustrates this. A multi-perspectival illumination of the character corresponds to an interdisciplinary approach that takes changing historical, medial and societal contexts into account.

1. The figure of Kundry conjoins different female figures of Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival. This alone demonstrates Kundry’s complexity. Wolfram’s female figures have a negative emotionality in common, which is marked by suffering and sorrow. It concurs with precisely formulated codes: body language, spatial presentation and narration combine in order to develop dominant perceptions of minne and triuwe specifically from a female perspective. In Wagner’s Kundry, however, the accent shifts: the dialectic of Eros and Askese comes to the fore.

2. Kundry transpires to be a figure on the threshold to modernity. As a terrifyingly ambivalent, restless and trouble stirring figure, she transforms into the paradigm of a time of change and crisis. The pushing of her own limits, expressed through experimental and plural performance–in form of laughing, screaming or remaining silent–enables Kundry to alleviate the suffering and desires of people that, although already part of modernity, are still rooted and enwrapped in the ideas of the age of romanticism.

3. Kundry steadily provoked new, and always current, variants for interpretation and understanding: an unresolved, incompletable process of reception. In the dynamics of historical movement this, on one hand, allows for an abundance...

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