Siena 1880. During his penultimate trip to Italy, Richard Wagner stayed for nearly two months in the neighbourhood of Siena. He was completing the orchestration of Parsifal, and went one day to visit the cathedral. Hardly had he got inside when he dissolved into tears, exclaiming ‘this the Temple of the Grail’. And indeed, if you look at the stage designs for the third act of Parsifal as they were prepared for the first performance at Bayreuth in 1882, you will find that the Temple of the Grail does in fact open on to a fairly faithful reconstruction of the interior of this city's exceptionally beautiful cathedral.
(Translated by David Osmond-Smith)