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Met's "Parsival"


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#1 SandyMcKean

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:33 PM

I was absolutely transfixed by the Saturday live HD broadcast. I have no data to back up this claim, but it seemed to me that this performance must have been Jonas Kaufmann's career best performance. Astonishing.

#2 Helene

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 09:38 PM

The music is beautiful, the singing was fantastic, I loved what Girard and set designer Michael Levine did, but could the story be any more regressive in its view of women?

#3 Jayne

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 10:17 PM

Well that's Wagner for ya, have you read his views on Jews? I had to read them in the original German back in my university days. That put me off German literature permanently.

#4 sandik

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 11:52 PM

I saw Wagner and Me earlier this winter, with Stephen Fry trying to reconcile his love for the music with his disdain for the composer's beliefs. A difficult juggling act, and I'm not sure he pulled it off, but I admire his willingness to grapple with difficult things in public.

#5 abatt

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 06:09 AM

The music is beautiful, the singing was fantastic, I loved what Girard and set designer Michael Levine did, but could the story be any more regressive in its view of women?


Definitely agree w. you about Wagner's view of women. However, in this production, did you notice that Kundry is the person who brings forth the grail at the end of the opera. That was an interesting and unanticipated event, because I would have assumed that women were forbidden to touch it. Also, at the end of the opera the women and the men reunite and are no longer on separate sides of the stage. Very interesting production. There have also been some interesting reviews regarding the sexual imagery in the production - particularly the second act.

#6 Birdsall

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 07:30 AM

Jonas Kaufmann astonished me every single time he opened his mouth. Such a beautiful and strong sound comes out. If anyone else had sung Parsifal I would have skipped this. But he was outstanding. I was a bit disappointed in Rene Pape who is usually excellent. I felt some of the comprimario basses had a darker sound in comparison. He simply sounded lightweight in the role and the fact he did not have a forceful personality in the role didn't help. Very very surprised b/c I liked him in previous things even Boris Godunov. Kundry is such a difficult role especially that "Ich lachte!" high jump into the depths (high and then low), an almost impossible moment to get right. So we can't expect any Kundry to be great. We can only hope for decent. Dalayman was "okay." Not great, not terrible.

I didn't hate the production, but I thought it was overall boring. I wished for more moments (images) like when the earth opened up and Kaufmann reached into the bloody abyss. That was a poetic image and I thought the production would have more moments like that. I thought the flower maidens looked too much like characters in Japanese horror films.

I don't really think we need to have people dressed in modern clothes to make things relevant as the director implied in one of the intermissions. I don't know why directors keep saying and thinking that. You could stage anything in period and if well done, people will relate and cry or be touched. Humans are humans. This idea of modern dress in an attempt to make things relevant is hogwash. Occasionally I like a modern or crazy production (like the Copenhagen Ring), but overall I think there is no reason to attempt to make it relevant by using modern dress. It will be relevant to us if acted and sung well b/c it will move us. Sometimes I think it is an excuse to cut costs on costumes.

Parsifal is a long opera. Even for someone who loves the music it goes on a bit too long, in my opinion. I am sure some disagree with it being too long, but I think Wagner was a lunatic. Most artists suffer for their art. Wagner wanted us to suffer for his art! LOL The first act of Parsifal (2 hours), the first act of Götterdämmerung (2 hours), final act of Meistersinger (2 hours) and all of Rheingold (2 1/2 hours or more with no intermission) requires that I do not drink hardly anything all morning and day before a performance, so I am not dying and crying to pee. I suck on mints all day instead of drinking.

Wagner doesn't seem like a human being most of us would have wanted to spend much time around, but his music is glorious. However, there is an obsessive quality. I warn friends who want to see Tristan und Isolde or Parsifal for the first time (and don't get me wrong I LOVE both operas) that nothing happens for hours!!!!!!! LOL Characters in Wagner tend to tell the story and repeat and repeat and repeat.....I really do think Wagner was a lunatic!!!! But love his works anyway.

#7 Birdsall

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 07:43 AM

There have also been some interesting reviews regarding the sexual imagery in the production - particularly the second act.


The spear going into the grail at the end while Kundry held the grail was "hit you over the head" sexual.....so I agree....lots of sexual imagery, but I think that is already there without clobbering us over the head. That's the problem I have with these directors. They think none of us have read Freud or noticed certain things in works of art, etc. So they lead us by the nose to discover these things, when we will discover them as we get to know the works more and more (by seeing them over and over). I think many directors do not have faith in the work itself. All great works are multi-layered and can be read in many different ways even if done exactly as the libretto states. Of course, I don't believe in following the libretto to the extreme and I am not against different stagings and even sometimes a crazy production. But I think we have to have faith in these works and faith in the audience to see things without hammering us.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 07:54 AM

I don't really think we need to have people dressed in modern clothes to make things relevant as the director implied in one of the intermissions. I don't know why directors keep saying and thinking that. You could stage anything in period and if well done, people will relate and cry or be touched. Humans are humans. This idea of modern dress in an attempt to make things relevant is hogwash. Occasionally I like a modern or crazy production (like the Copenhagen Ring), but overall I think there is no reason to attempt to make it relevant by using modern dress. It will be relevant to us if acted and sung well b/c it will move us. Sometimes I think it is an excuse to cut costs on costumes.
.


This is so true. A couple of days ago I went to see a rare produccion of Handel's "Agrippinna". It was a lovely produccion by the school of music of the Florida International University, and I really enjoyed it everything but the choice of the AD to disregard the period and instead dress the characters in such a mitch match that I couldn't really make sense of. It is even more confusing in historical dramas for those who are not too familiar with historical facts and characters.

I think this will be the same case in the upcoming Giulio Cesare...

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#9 abatt

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 08:08 AM

I saw Parsifal live in the Big House, so I was not aware of the interviews that were broadcast to the HD audience. Did the director have anything else of interest to say? Did they interview anyone else during these interminable intermissions?

#10 sandik

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 09:46 AM

I don't really think we need to have people dressed in modern clothes to make things relevant as the director implied in one of the intermissions. I don't know why directors keep saying and thinking that. You could stage anything in period and if well done, people will relate and cry or be touched. Humans are humans. This idea of modern dress in an attempt to make things relevant is hogwash. Occasionally I like a modern or crazy production (like the Copenhagen Ring), but overall I think there is no reason to attempt to make it relevant by using modern dress. It will be relevant to us if acted and sung well b/c it will move us. Sometimes I think it is an excuse to cut costs on costumes.


"It will be relevant to us if acted and sung well b/c it will move us."

But if that's the case, you can indeed work with alternatives to the original setting/era, and it will still work as theater. I haven't seen this production so haven't any opinion about this staging, but I have seen plenty of productions where the director made choices outside of the original stage directions, and the result was an amazing show. I think, fundamentally, we actually agree -- in opera, the core of the work is the music -- if that's in the right place, everything orbiting around it will contribute to the total effect (lordy -- "Gesamkunstwerk" before noon?). If the music is weak, everything else is out of balance.

Parsifal is a long opera. Even for someone who loves the music it goes on a bit too long, in my opinion. I am sure some disagree with it being too long, but I think Wagner was a lunatic. Most artists suffer for their art. Wagner wanted us to suffer for his art! LOL The first act of Parsifal (2 hours), the first act of Götterdämmerung (2 hours), final act of Meistersinger (2 hours) and all of Rheingold (2 1/2 hours or more with no intermission) requires that I do not drink hardly anything all morning and day before a performance, so I am not dying and crying to pee. I suck on mints all day instead of drinking.


"Wagner wanted us to suffer for his art!"

Oh, this makes me giggle! We've got the Ring coming up this summer, and already I'm thinking strategically. I've been using Ricola cough drops but your comment makes me think I should shop around.

#11 SandyMcKean

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:09 AM

I loved what Girard and set designer Michael Levine did.....

Me too. It created an "other world" that to me is so appropriate for this spiritually based opera. Some of the video images were extremely effective. I also loved the stark contrast of Act I and Act III from Act II. Parsival wanders the "real" world in Act II before returning to the purity of the Holy Grail sanctuary where he so mysteriously found himself in Act I. Taking Wagner's point of view when he wrote this (rather than my POV), the "real" world is full of corruption and lack of integrity. This production made me feel that so strongly. Unlike a previous comment in this thread, I absolutely loved, loved, loved the way the flower maidens were portrayed. Let's face it, Wagner was obsessed by sex and the allure of the female charm (heck, it practically drove all his choices in his own life). As a man, I understood more than I can ever put into words the seductive power of the maidens that tempt Parsival. I think this production succeeded in spectacular fashion in its rendition of this very powerful tempting force I have no doubt Wagner felt in his life.

My one regret is that I won't see this production in the theater. The HD broadcasts are terrific, but the nuances of the lighting (and everything else in this production) is so subtle that I don't think the dynamics of HD video technology can possibly capture what the theater audience must see.

.....but could the story be any more regressive in its view of women?

I understand this complaint (assuming its a complaint), but I don't agree it is valid. We can't place 21st century values on a mid 19th century piece of art. Parsival speaks to the spiritual inner being of us all (and I don't mean that religiously). That he picked an an all male order to represent purity of spirit, as well as picking a woman to represent temptation, is his prerogative. Clearly, the piece is some sort of homage to Christianity (its good parts, not its bad parts), and the role of Kundry is completely consistent with the first page of Genesis......besides Kundry does not freely choose this way of being; indeed, she struggles against it; she is trapped by Klingsor until she is redeemed by Parsival's forgiveness. Can't we just allow an artist to make his/her choices without all this hyper-sensitivity? I don't care if it's Kundry or putting cow dung on the Virgin Mary, everyone is free to dislike whatever piece of art they choose, but allow the art to stand.

#12 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:28 AM

Can't we just allow an artist to make his/her choices without all this hyper-sensitivity?


It would certainly be pleasant if the the issue were that simple. Such choices matter and people will criticize, praise, or otherwise discuss them, and they may arrive at conclusions with which you disagree.

Nice comments, all, thanks.

#13 SandyMcKean

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:57 AM

Such choices matter


My God, these choices were made 130 years ago!

If you mean that the production designers and directors ought to tone down Wagner's choices.......that I vehemently oppose. The last thing we should ever do is water down the art of past centuries to somehow appease today's sensibilities.

#14 dirac

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 12:40 PM

It is possible to examine classic works critically without accepting or employing presentism (using the word in its literary/historical sense) in its cruder forms.

#15 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 01:00 PM

If you mean that the production designers and directors ought to tone down Wagner's choices.......that I vehemently oppose.


That make two of us. When I went to see Handel's Agrippinna, I wanted to see a proper Roman setting. Instead I got some weird stuff that up until now I can't decide what was that about. The main thing I see about this is that eventually all this fantasy playing with historical settings could get so confused for some who're not that familiar with the work that, even if well sung and acted, can eventually interfere with the whole experience. I think they somehow ignore the lesser familiarity of the non cognoscenti audience.


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