From its conception in 1857 to its first performances in 1882, Parsifal represented the culmination of the themes that preoccupied Wagner during the latter part of his life. This guide includes a series of articles on Wagner's profound and complex opera, which the composer preferred to call a BuhnenweihfestspielA" - a festival work to consecrate a stageA". The first, by Mike Ashman, explores the ideological background to the opera, both political and philosophical. Dieter Borchmeyer goes on to discuss the mythological foundations of Parsifal, and its relation to Wagner's earlier works. Robin Holloway provides a study of the opera's musical motifs, followed by Carolyn Abbate's essay 'Parsifal: Words and Music', which examines the relation between music and drama in the opera. Finally, Gerd Rienacker contributes an essay on the dramaturgy of Parsifal, and analyzes some of the major scenes.