MOSS Guest Seminar: Professor Richard Bell

Tuesday 29th November 2011 (17:00-19:00)

Professor Richard Bell (University of Nottingham) will speak on 'O Torment of Love; Sex, Sin and Suffering in Wagner's Parsifal'.


This paper will focus on part of Parsifal Act II where Wagner brings together in a dense constellation the issues of sex, sin and suffering - and “knowledge”. Parsifal, the “perfect fool”, encounters the “sphinx-like” figure of Kundry who seduces him by inducing a sense of guilt: he broke the heart of his mother, Herzeleide, and she died. But Kundry consoles him by showing him the power of Herzeleide’s passion that engulfed his father when Parsifal was conceived. After Kundry kisses him he becomes fully identified with King Amfortas (whom Kundry had also seduced) and comes to a series of terrible insights which shake him to the core of his being, insights into the physical and spiritual agony at work in the entire created order. Kundry asks him: “Was it my kiss which made you see the world so clearly?” Among other things this paper will offer some reflections on Kundry’s question.  

Richard Bell studied at London, Oxford and Tübingen and is Professor of Theology at the University of Nottingham. His major research project is a “theology of mind” which brings together three of his academic passions: Quantum Theory, St Paul, and Richard Wagner. He teaches on the New Testament and on Natural Science and Theology and has just launched an MA module Doing Theology with Richard Wagner. He is at present writing a book on the theology of Parsifal.

This is Centre for Music on Stage and Screen (MOSS) seminar.

All welcome.



Department of Music

The University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Admission enquiries
All other enquiries
- Telephone: +44 (0)115 951 5841
- Email: