A magical Parsifal

Curtain Call at Parsifal

Curtain call at Parsifal, showing the basic set with woodland surrounding a geometric playing space and the Grail ‘cube’.

I’m not sure Parsifal has ever quite worked this spell on me. It’s entirely possible I was just ‘in that zone’ and receptive to its very special charms. However, I also think that this was one of the most successful new productions Covent Garden has had for some time. Whilst Stephen Langridge’s production is not without flaws, in comparison to a number of recent new productions on London’s stages, it is something of a triumph. With a very strong cast – and some notably outstanding and character-redefining performances – it was a special evening indeed. (more…)

Tardy thoughts: Parsifal and Eugene Onegin

With relative brevity, given the lack of currency, my thoughts on my last two musical outings: to the Met Parsifal, relayed (with some disappointment) to the Phoenix Cinema, East Finchley; and before that to the last performance of the run of Eugene Onegin at the Royal Opera House, which was also not without its frustrations. 

The Met’s production seemed measured, expansive and non-intrusive.  The barren expanses of the outer acts were accompanied by massive projections of swirling, angry skies and mystical planets rising up from the horizon in the manner of Melancholia.  For the second act, Klingsor’s enchanted garden was a little less than enchanting, but taken on its own terms it was a relatively well executed confrontation, and the lake of blood soaking up the white shift-dresses of the Flowermaidens was a striking image. (more…)

Parsifal’s long, weary road

How’s this for a schedule:

  • Saturday, 31 March 2012 –  Parsifal (Cardiff);
  • Sunday, 1 April 2012 – Mahler Symphony No 8 (Cardiff);
  • Tuesday 3 April 2012 – Parsifal (London);
  • Wednesday 4 April 2012 – Verdi Requiem (London);
  • Friday 6 April 2012 – Parsifal (Birmingham)?

Despite being used, presumably, to thundering away in the Mariinksy pit night after night, by the end of Parsifal at the Barbican a number of our little group were remarking on how exhausted the orchestra looked.  I was exhausted just watching it, and I’d only had a short day’s work and the Circle line to precede it.  They presumably needed some Good Friday magic for that last performance… (more…)

The stuff Grail legends are made of

As soon as I read in a review somewhere that there was a disused railway line in English National Opera’s production of Parsifal, a vague memory was stirred. Sure enough, it was the myriad details of the production that brought memories of an earlier encounter flooding back: a tribute to the simple power of the staging.  The ramp in the first act under which the red-brown fur-clad Kundry disappears; Klingsor in his circular perch and the sensual/scary Flowermaidens of Act 2; and Act 3’s already-mentioned railway line are the principal ones.  1999 was six years into my opera-going ‘career’, and still the singing is a crucial detail I can’t recall for the benefit of comparison. (more…)