Saturday, March 02, 2013


You're not going to believe this.  I hardly believe it myself.  I loved it.  I am speaking of the simulcast of Parsifal from the Metropolitan Opera.

Conductor:   Daniele Gatti
Production:   François Girard

Parsifal:   Jonas Kaufmann
Gurnemanz:   René Pape
Amfortas:   Peter Mattei
Kundry:   Katarina Dalayman
Klingsor:   Evgeny Nikitin

Daniele Gatti was the key.  He has been conducting Parsifal all around the globe for the last 5 years and has managed to sublimate the annoying passage [this refers to my personal annoyance with the use of the Dresden Amen as a leitmotiv--see here] into the overall texture of the opera, making it the key to understanding it all.  You see, Wagner's Parsifal is so corny as to completely transcend corniness.  Gatti conducted without a score and was simply magnificent.  I was very surprised to hear hints of impressionism in the score.  One can't help wondering.

All the tempos were painfully slow.  By the time I made it out to the parking lot it had been over 6 hours since the opera started.

The story arc of Kundry is interesting.  In Act I she is the messenger of the Knights, a person who seems always to do what she is told while facilitating their destruction.  She is a kind of eternal woman like Emilia Marty.  As Herodias she laughed at Jesus and was punished with a curse that she would never die.  During the time of the opera she is a slave of Klingsor.  In the second act she tries to seduce Parsifal.  The harder he resists, the harder she tries.  Parsifal defeats Klingsor and releases Kundry from her curse.  In the third act she washes his feet and he baptizes her.  In our production she takes the grail from its shrine, holds it aloft and dies.  Katarina Dalayman was our Kundry.  Describing her part, she said, "It has no real tessitura."  This means it doesn't emphasize any particular part of the range and instead covers the whole voice.  Her concept of Kundry's character was impressive and very enjoyable.

I moved Gurnemanz up in the cast list because he is the narrator and sings more than anyone else.  René Pape could do this part in his sleep.

Parsifal means pure fool.  He is raised alone, like Siegfried, and knows nothing of life.  He doesn't know he isn't supposed to shoot a swan and makes his entrance having done just that.  He is suddenly enlightened just as Kundry kisses him.  This is Jonas Kaufmann who clearly loves this opera a very great deal.  This is only his second time singing it, but it lies deep in his soul.

The style of the production reminded me of the latest super hero movies like Avengers.  They are the people of great strength of character who go around in drab costumes on dark sets.  Parsifal is a great super hero who performs feats of mystical power.

Both our Germans, Jonas Kaufmann and René Pape, wanted to greet their relatives watching in Germany. 

It was all deeply emotional throughout, a marvelous cast with great commitment.  Is it possible to have a spiritual quest without following any particular religion?

Perhaps this was the Parsifal for me.  Congratulations to all.

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