Un-Stageable Parsifal Wonderfully Sung
John Preedy reviews the New York Metropolitan Opera Production presentation in live cinema and radio relay of Wagner’s Parsifal
Act Two, is set in Klingsor’s magic garden, which is generally portrayed as a beautiful colourful place; the text says it is in a wooded valley. The flower maidens are usually seductive and alluring. Girard put the flower maidens, wearing white nightgowns and having long black hair, in a dark red cave dripping with blood. If you think of early horror movie female vampires you’ll get the general impression.Throughout the act all the performers were standing in a lake of stage blood and, as they knelt or moved, it stained their clothes. Klingsor had to pick it up in cupped hands and throw it about or pretend to! A river of blood flowed down the back of the stage between the rocks at the entrance to the cave. It’s difficult to imagine anything less likely to create a mood of seduction or more likely to distract one from the music. At the end Parsifal just takes the spear from an unresisting Klingsor and that’s it! In fact so dramatic was this moment that my companion slept through it, although to be fair this interpretation is supported directly by the text!
Clearly there is blood in Wagner’s text. Amfortas’ wound bleeds continually and blood from the body of Christ is at the source of the power of the Grail. Blood is also suggested by Klingsors’ self-emasculation in his mistaken attempt to gain purity, but it is not the primary focus of the story of the opera, which is to achieve redemption. In this production there was too much blood, which had a visual impact far too powerful for its role in the text. The director also employed too much coordinated group arm waving, which distracted from the performance as a whole.
Both of them gave absolutely everything here and I’m sure that their voices more than filled the Met. Daniele Gatti conducted the whole evening impeccably from memory with assurance and artistry. This was an exceptional cast for an exceptional piece but I’m sorry that I can’t say the same for the production.
A minor gripe about the sound before I finish. It was noticeable that the balance for the quiet passages and offstage voices was not correct. There was a lot of low frequency background noise, as if the microphones were too far away from the performers. I didn’t notice this problem when they did Götterdämmerung a year ago on MET HD Live so they need to do something to address.
|John Preedy, Blogger|
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- The Met season is now transmitted in live relay to cinemas world wide. In France this is the sixth season bringing opera on a big screen to the four corners of the Hexagon. See the French transmission programme for the rest of the season here.
- See the Met website here for full details of all its productions.
- See Viva l’Opéra – Live in a Cinema near You to see how the success of the Met transmissions has prompted French and other European opera houses to join a trend enthusiastically supported by national cinema chains.
- More from John Preedy: Will Thorium be the Fuel for the Future?
John Preedy reviews the New York Metropolitan Opera Production cinematic presentation of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung – The Twilight of the Gods
Review – click here
John Preedy reviews the Royal Opera House’s acclaimed cinematic presentation of Puccini’s Tosca, featuring Bryn Terfel, Angela Gheorghiu and Jonas Kaufmann.
Review – click here
The Metroplitan Opera of New York’s production, at a cinema near you, along with many other top ranked operas that are showing throughout France.
Review – click here
- Parsifal, Live from the Met (josephsoleary.typepad.com)
- The Met broadcasts François Girard’s new production of ‘Parsifal’ (Photos) (examiner.com)
- Striking new look for ‘Parsifal’ at Met in NYC (newsday.com)