The gifted actress Katarina Dalayman took time off from her performing, teaching, coaching and all of her other responsibilities to join the “Singers Roundtable” at the Wagner Society’s seminar on Sunday. We were discussing Kundry when she made the following very interesting points (my summary, not hers):
Here we have someone who, for her sin, is condemned to live for over 2,000 years and cannot be released from the pain of living. She is incapable of any reaction to emotion other than to laugh at it. She has deep remorse and is condemned to experience deep lust. She is forced to sexually engage with people she doesn’t care about, she doesn’t want to do it, and she is constantly called upon to perform odious tasks, in thrall to a demon master. She is desperate. When Parsifal rejects her, she is suddenly released because it is the first time that someone has escaped her. The behavior that she was trapped inside, now ceases to capture Parsifal, and both escape.
What happens to Kundry between the acts, I asked her. Does she go on a journey, as Parsifal does? No, she hibernates, said Ms. Dalayman. All those years that Parsifal is forced to wander, she lies there almost dead. And when she wakes, she wants only to serve others. Parsifal has service to offer, and so does she, and she rightly takes her place. And when Parsifal cleanses her, instead of laughing, she finally weeps.