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Palais Theatre, St Kilda
20 Feb 2019 - 24 Feb 2019


Wagner's Holy Grail


Immerse yourself in the legend of the Holy Grail and the knights who protect it, and witness the most beautiful quest for redemption in the literature of opera.

From the prelude of Parsifal onwards, you will be mesmerised by music of sacred dimensions; a testament to the mystical power of harmony. Wagner traversed unknown territories of musical writing with his mythical odyssey, shaping an incomparable world that enthralled composers as diverse as Sibelius, Mahler and Debussy, and later inspired major film score composers.

For this exceptional event, we welcome some of the world’s greatest Wagnerian singers; mezzo-soprano Katarina Dalayman and bass Peter Rose join internationally revered Melbourne baritone Derek Welton, who was acclaimed for his performance of Klingsor at the 2018 Bayreuth festival.

Director Roger Hodgman guides this new, modern production with poetry and simplicity, following the prophesied odyssey of Parsifal from blasphemer to saviour.

After their celebrated performance in The Flying Dutchman, the Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO) returns with their typical vigour and vitality under the baton of the intrepid Richard Mills.


Palais Theatre, St Kilda

Wednesday 20 February, 4:30pm
Friday 22 February, 4:30pm
Sunday 24 February, 3:00pm

Sung in German with English surtitles

Approximate timings

Running time is approximately 4 hours, plus one dinner break and one interval.

Act One – 1 hour 45 minutes
Dinner Break – 1 hour 30 minutes
Act Two - 1 hour 5 minutes
Interval – 20 minutes
Act Three – 1 hour 15 minutes

Dinner break is 6:15pm – 7:45pm on weekdays and 4:45pm – 6:15pm on Sunday. The performance will end at approximately 10:25pm on weekdays and 8:55pm on Sunday.

Explore dining options near Palais Theatre

Patrons' Interval Drinks Friday 22 February

Price reserve maps for this production can be found on our Venue Information page.

Why you must experience Parsifal

  • Be transformed by the transcendental power of Wagner's music, which you must experience at least once in your lifetime. Have you ticked it off your bucket list?
  • Escape your everyday life for a few hours and enter a world of heroic fantasy filled with magical characters including noble knights, evil sorcerers and flirtatious Flower Maidens.
  • Hear the greatest Wagnerian singers from around the world who have performed their roles in famous opera houses such The Met, Royal Opera House and Bayreuth Festival. Goosebumps guaranteed!
  • See the first fully-staged production of Parsifal in Melbourne ever.
  • Act 1 + picnic at the beach + Act 2 + glass of bubbly + Act 3 = an amazing summer night out. Sounds like a great plan, doesn't it?
Costume designs by Christina Smith for Victorian Opera's Parsifal: Amfortas (Act I), Kundry (Act II), Gurnemanz (Act I), Flower Maiden

Story & Music

The Story

Entrusted to watch over the Holy Grail and Holy Spear, Titurel gathered a brotherhood of noble knights to help him protect these sacred relics. Each time the Grail is unveiled in a ritual ceremony, it nourishes the knights and extends their mortality.

Klingsor, a former knight rejected by the brotherhood, turned to black magic and created a garden of desire filled with enchanting Flower Maidens to lure the knights and destroy them. When fiery Amfortas, the son of ageing Titurel, attempted to defeat Klingsor he was seduced by Kundry, a shape-shifting seductress working under Klingsor’s spell. While Amfortas was distracted, Klingsor stole the Holy Spear and pierced Amfortas' side, inflicting an incurable wound.

Amfortas now awaits ‘an innocent fool, enlightened by compassion’ who, according to a prophecy, is the only one that can cure him.

In the forest by a lake where Amfortas bathes, the knights encounter a naive boy called Parsifal who impetuously shoots a swan without understanding the consequences of his actions. The old knight Gurnemanz suspects Parsifal could be the saviour they have been waiting for. But first Parsifal will need to undergo a series of trials and tribulations to learn the true value of compassion, including a soul-searing encounter with the sorceress of the eternal feminine, Kundry, in Klingsor’s magic castle.

The Music

With his music for Parsifal, Wagner created an extraordinary universe of sound to express his spiritual, philosophical and dramatic ideas. The music is magnificent and entrancing, moving from solemn and sacred (for example, the procession in the Grail Hall in Act I) to luscious and sensual (for example, the Act II seduction), and with moments of otherworldly beauty (including the Act III ‘Good Friday’ scene).

Wagner transcended traditional operatic forms by creating a unique style of continuously flowing music and building on his use of leitmotifs, opening the door to a new form of musical expression. With his swan song, Wagner had mastered the ability of music to express what words themselves cannot and to transform the audiences who experience it. 

Learn fascinating facts about Parsifal with Wagnerian expert Dr Peter Bassett on our 'Art of Opera' podcast.

Music recording courtesy of ABC Classic and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Markus Stenz at Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall.

Want to go even deeper into the background and music of Parsifal? Download our Education Resource.

Cast & Creatives

Composer and Librettist Richard Wagner
Conductor Richard Mills
Associate Conductor Daniel Carter
Director Roger Hodgman
Set Designer Richard Roberts
Costume Designer Christina Smith
Lighting Designer Matt Scott
Assistant Director Brock Roberts
Choreographer Elizabeth Hill


Parsifal Burkhard Fritz
Kundry Katarina Dalayman
Gurnemanz Peter Rose
Amfortas James Roser
Klingsor* Derek Welton
Titurel Teddy Tahu Rhodes

Ensemble featuring:
Carlos E. Bárcenas, Shakira Dugan, Stephen Marsh, Kathryn Radcliffe, Georgia Wilkinson, Timothy Reynolds, Paul Biencourt, Rebecca Rashleigh, Emily Uhlrich, Juel Riggall, Heather Fletcher, Victorian Opera Chorus, Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble (VOYCE) and Students from the University of Melbourne.


Australian Youth Orchestra (AYO)

*The Richard Wagner Society Inc (Vic) is supporting the role of Klingsor.



“★★★★★ This was one of most compelling Parsifals I have experienced.”

“★★★★ 1/2 Victorian Opera’s production of Wagner’s final work is musically excellent, and perceptively designed and directed.”

“Boldly going where few Australian companies have ventured, Victorian Opera’s Parsifal is a ­superb distillation of the work’s essence”

Eamonn Kelly, The Australian, 22 February 2019