Yet, in spite of Jimmie and the heat and the ache in our backs and the hard unyielding bench, that afternoon at “Parsifal” is one of the experiences of a lifetime.
People tell us now that we were there on an “Off day.” By that they mean that no singers with great names took part. How like Americans to think of that! Germans go to the opera for the music. Americans go to hear and see the operatic stars.
Happily unvexed by my ignorance, I heard a perfect “Parsifal” without knowing that, from an American point of view, I ought not to have been so delighted. The orchestra was conducted by Siegfried Wagner, and Madame Wagner sat in full view from even our eyrie.
And then—the opera! Perfection in every detail! I believed then that not even the Passion Play could hold my spirit, so in leash with its symbolism, its deep devotion, and its enthralling charms.
The day on which I saw “Parsifal” at Bayreuth was a day to be marked with a white stone.
THE PASSION PLAY
Jimmie came into the sitting-room this morning (for, by travelling with the Jimmies, Bee and I can be very grand, and share the luxury of a third room with them), but I suspected him from the moment I saw his face. It was too innocent to be natural.
“What you got, Jimmie?” I said. Jimmie’s manner of life invites abbreviated conversation.
“Only the letter from the Burgomeister of Oberammergau, assigning our lodgings,” he replied, carelessly. He yawned and put the letter in his pocket.
“Oh, Jimmie!” we all cried out. “Have they—”
“Have they what?” asked Jimmie, opening his eyes.
“Don’t be an idiot,” I said, savagely. “You know I have hardly been able to sleep, wondering if we’d have to go to ordinary lodgings or if they would assign us to some of the leading actors in the play. Tell us! Let me see the letter!”
“Now wait a minute,” said Jimmie, and then I knew that he was going to be exasperating.
“Don’t you let him fool you,” said Bee, who always doubts everybody’s good intentions and discounts their bad ones, which worthy plan of life permits her to count up at the end of the year only half as many mental bruises as I, let me pause to remark. “You know that not one in ten thousand has influence enough to obtain lodgings with the chief actors, and who are we, I should like to know, except in our own estimation?”
“Well,” said Jimmie, meekly, “in the estimation of the Burgomeister of Oberammergau, my wife is an American princess, travelling incognito as plain Mrs. Jimmie, to avoid being mobbed by entertainers. He promises in solemn German, which I had Franz translate, not to betray her disguise.”
“That makes a prince of you, Jimmie,” I said, sternly. “A pretty looking prince you are.”
“Not at all,” said Jimmie modestly. “I felt that I could not do the princely act very long either as to looks or fees, so I said that the princess had made a morganatic marriage, and that I was it.”