SandyMcKean

Met's "Parsival"

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the work is, if loosely, still inspired and based by a XIII Century poem, Wolfram von Eschenbach's "Parzival"

I was aware of this connection, but I know nothing of the von Eschenbach poem. Can you give me some general idea of what the costumes, sets, and overall feel of a production might look like if the director/designer wanted to be true to that poem?? Are you aware of any production that attempted this?

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I think the Met's previous Parsifal probably came as close as you can to setting it in the same time as the original story Parzival. The costumes and sets were absolutely gorgeous. Some people, however, found it boring. I loved that production. It might still be available on dvd. Not sure. It might be out of print.

But the actual von Eschenbach poem/story is very different than Wagner's. It has a lot more tests he has to go through and the story even branches off and follows stories of others as well. It is very, very different, but I suppose a general outline is similar. In fact, to explain some differences, there is one part where he has to get on top of a rolling bed that rolls around and bangs into walls while arrows and other things rain down on him, I believe. He is supposed to stay on the bed and not fall off. I forget the exact details. It has been so long. Basically, it is almost like a Science Fiction/Fantasy story. Kundry is nothing like in the opera. I think the opera sort of combines characters into her. My memory of Kundry in the story is that there is no way he would kiss Kundry! LOL I would have to reread. Parzival is definitely worth reading, if you are looking for something to read.

Wagner kept the general concept and added a whole lot more spirituality (or our idea of spirituality opposed to the Middle Ages), in my opinion (he even added Buddhism).

So I actually think there is an argument for placing it in the middle ages but also a good argument for giving it an "anytime" setting as well.

Believe it or not, La Boheme can actually work when updated. I think the Australian Opera did a decent updating of it that was charming years ago. It was played on PBS. The thing about La Boheme is that in that particular case the traditional dress does make them look more like our grandparents and we forget these people are artists and bohemian artists who are barely surviving. They are similar to beatniks in the 1960s. They are having sex outside of marriage which was probably not the norm back in the day of the setting. We forget to look at these characters as total artist types who are really living an avant garde (non-mainstream) lifestyle. These same characters today would have tattoos all over their bodies and huge ear piercings. Remember also that Rodolfo and Mimi decide to stay together until spring (keep warm in the winter), so there is a certain amount of practicality in these people's concept of love. I think over time audiences have over-romanticized La Boheme and forgotten that these people are sort of edgy people. They are not upstanding middle class people. They are more fringe types. It is still very beautiful (especially Puccini's music). But this is actually an opera that I think makes more sense to people today if done in an updated thing.

I hate the updated operas where they are talking about their sword and pull out a gun instead. LOL I hate when it makes no sense. But if an updating makes sense and gives me something to really think about, then I accept it.

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HuffPo article by someone who doesn't like the METLive intermission interviews (but I love them!)

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He could have left the movie theater during the intermission. Nobody forced him to sit there and listen to the interviews.

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The intermission interviews start within 20 seconds of the curtain. Unless the author was sitting on an aisle by the door and got up and ran into the lobby, it would have been impossible to miss them. Unless the author was willing to go in and out during the set changes between acts when there is no intermission, it's impossible to miss the banging and chatter. Typically, that's not possible. In my theater, I counted four people under the age of 50, and between the walkers, the canes, and elderly people trying to get down the aisles that don't have handrails, it typically takes at least five minutes of the intermission-intermission to get to the exit, by which time, I've already heard the blood-spattered Peter Mattei being interviewed happily. (I know he's being lauded for his physical performance, but I felt it for the two guys on whom he leaned and had to hold various contortions while supporting Mattei's body weight.)

I know it's impractical for them to do the interviews, except the conductor, at the end of the long intermission, but I wish they could: 25 minutes later, I've always found the conductor interview a good way to transition back into the opera, after having braved the rest room line, the popcorn and poutine smells, and, in one theater south of Seattle, the blaring rock music and video game sounds. I also wish they would put the sound on mute while the stage-hands work. Then it would be possible to sit with closed eyes to think about what happened and to ignore the set change.

Sirius/XM Met broadcasts have related issues for the archived versions: the don't wait more than a few seconds after one act before they edit in Juntwaite's pre-recorded synopses for the next -- there's no breather between acts -- and in live performances, she and her partner, usually William Berger, don't wait more than a few seconds before exclaiming how wonderful it was, which is longer than I have to rush out of the room to avoid them or to find the remote and the "mute" button. At least the intermission interviews are normally about upcoming operas and performers and are far more in-depth than the two-five-minute variety for the HD broadcasts.

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HuffPo article by someone who doesn't like the METLive intermission interviews (but I love them!)

I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

On opera sites many people complain about the intermissions and say it ruins the mood, but in a regular opera house, you usually get up, go pee, fight the crowds for a drink and hear all the people in the lobby talking and if you go outside, people are smoking, etc. How does that not ruin the mood???? LOL I don't see how a regular opera house intermission and then a movie version with intermission features makes any difference. If I were bothered I would go sit in the lobby or even outside (with the movie ticket stub you can re-enter). But I am not bothered at all by them, but sometimes I don't find them that enlightening and like a break to stand for a while. I think it is a nice thing they do providing intermission features for those who don't want to sit twiddling their thumbs. You can leave and avoid them or stay and enjoy them. Either way you have an option.

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I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

"

" is a stagehand's view of San Francisco Opera's production of the Ring cycle. The sequence at the top where they are trying to explain the plot over a poker game is fabulous -- the Rhinemaidens "are pissed" when they lose the gold. "Doesn't one of the giants end up getting a chick out of the deal? Oh yeah, Fafner!"

Big, big fun!

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I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

I don't mind watching: it's the listening that I don't like.

On opera sites many people complain about the intermissions and say it ruins the mood, but in a regular opera house, you usually get up, go pee, fight the crowds for a drink and hear all the people in the lobby talking and if you go outside, people are smoking, etc. How does that not ruin the mood???? LOL I don't see how a regular opera house intermission and then a movie version with intermission features makes any difference.

In an opera house, I can usually find a spot where I'm not exposed to what the opera singer is like in real life or what other audience members think of the opera -- except on the loo line, where I wish I couldn't -- and, if I go alone, I'm not subjected to what my opera companion thinks about it, while I'm mulling it over. The issue with the intermission features is that they're not easy to escape if you want to avoid them, where if they were at the end, instead of the beginning, the only thing you'd hear is what's around you in the theater and a general murmur from the screen, like during the regular intermission.

Should Gerald Finley really have a microphone stuck in his face within a minute of having sung a devastating "Batter My Heart"? I know I wanted to think about it and absorb it right afterwards, and I'm only audience. The only part of the artist interviews I really like are when they give greetings in their native language to their homies. That's my favorite part of going to opera in countries where I don't speak the language: people could be saying the most inane things that would make me want to jump over the balcony if I understood them, but it's one of the few times that not understanding makes things that much better.

think it is a nice thing they do providing intermission features for those who don't want to sit twiddling their thumbs. You can leave and avoid them or stay and enjoy them. Either way you have an option.

That's the problem: you can't avoid them. They start very soon after the curtain drops, and if you're in the 11th row behind a phalanx of elderly people trying to navigate stairs in the dark with their canes, the first interview is over before you can get out of the theater to avoid them.

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Should Gerald Finley really have a microphone stuck in his face within a minute of having sung a devastating "Batter My Heart"? I know I wanted to think about it and absorb it right afterwards, and I'm only audience.

No, but at least he's asked about what he thinks about the music and the role. At least we're given more to think about. The de rigeur flattery and camaraderie between the singers which is also part of most interviews, while pleasant in itself because it's usually convincing, is what really destroys contemplation for me. And what bother me just as much are the preview shots before the live broadcast begins. I close my eyes.

Anyhow, after listening to the Parsifal broadcast I already regretted passing on the HD transmission. Reading this thread, I look forward all the more to a possible encore showing, or if that doesn't happen, at least to Met on Demand.

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The singers in the HD broadcasts know well in advance exactly when and if they will be interviewed during the intermission of the HD broadcast. In fact, I bet they already know in advance the questions they will be asked too. Most singers would kill to be in one of these HD broadcasts, so I'm sure the imposition of giving a brief interview is very minimal in comparison to the worldwide exposure that they are given.

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Just some thoughts b/c I am amazed at the variety of opinions. I am not being argumentative here below. Just how I relate to the world and intrigued how others do it differently:

I guess I tend to be able to block out the world easily, and each person is different. I can contemplate what I just watched while people are talking loudly on the screen. In fact, sometimes I am thinking about what I just watched and am mad that I just missed what the singer said that sounded interesting at the tail end.

I think the only distractions that bother me are when people talk during a performance or jangling bracelets during a performance (any noise DURING that disrupts what we are seeing). I need quiet during the performance, but the minute the curtain goes down for intermission it can be as noisy as a train station and it would not bother me.

I have a hard time believing that the singers aren't asked if they are willing to be interviewed first. I hope they are. I hope it is not a surprise. To me it looks like they know they are going to be interviewed. There have been some intermissions where a singer who was pivotal was not interviewed from what I noticed. I am sure they are given an option. I have had friends in the performing arts and the ones I've known are hyped up when they come off stage. They have an adrenalin rush and are more than happy to talk your ear off. But different singers probably feel different ways too. It probably depends on the role. A very moving scene that wears them out might cause them to want to be alone. Who knows?

kfw, I think seeing a Parsifal is always worthwhile. It is rarely played anyway except major stages.....I can't picture it played in most regional companies. So I encourage you to see the encore and tell us what you think. It is the only HD I saw this season. Wagner and Bellini's Norma are about the only things that get me to see any kind of opera. But I love Kaufmann so much that I might go to his Werther HD next season.

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I sometimes find the intermission features interesting, but I actually love seeing the backstage crew changing sets. For some people it destroys the illusion, I guess, but for me it is very fascinating to see how it is all done.

"

" is a stagehand's view of San Francisco Opera's production of the Ring cycle. The sequence at the top where they are trying to explain the plot over a poker game is fabulous -- the Rhinemaidens "are pissed" when they lose the gold. "Doesn't one of the giants end up getting a chick out of the deal? Oh yeah, Fafner!"

Big, big fun!

Yes, I've seen that! Loved watching it! It was interesting to see the world of the Ring behind the scenes (how the stage hands relate to it).

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Of course the singers know tey're going to be interviewed. Some, like Netrebko, who in one of the first season's was interviewed in her dressing room, seem to thrive on it. Some of the others, not so much, and it's a trade-off. Who is going to say no to Peter Gelb?

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[... after listening to the Parsifal broadcast I already regretted passing on the HD transmission. Reading this thread, I look forward all the more to a possible encore showing, or if that doesn't happen, at least to Met on Demand.

Parsifal Encores are scheduled for Wednesday, March 20, which is when I'll see it.

I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.

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I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.

Ditto about Voigt. She is a great interviewer. Fleming was good too.

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Someone mentioned Kathleen Battle earlier in this thread. Today i was sorting some boxes and came across the Feb.21, 1994 edition of Time magazine. Amazing edition, it covers the Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding conflict, the war in Sarajevo, the initial attempts at de-occupying portions of Gaza, the first free elections in South Africa (not so long after Nelson Mandela was freed), the brinksmanship between the USA and Japan on a trade agreement, the Tailhook scandal, and the initial Hilary Clinton - driven attempt at manditory employer paid health care legislation. The Culture section reviews the movie "Slackers", Edward Albee's play "Three Tall Women", and all the juicy gossip surrounding Kathleen Battle's firing by Joseph Volpe at the MET;

citing unprofessional actions....profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members....In doing so, he set off a grand international choruses of "It's about time."

http://www.time.com/...1940221,00.html

It's hard to imagine that she would participate in behind-the-scenes interviews that the MET gives today, given her extraordinarily erratic behavior. I also think the pressure of a live performance in HD would crush her psychological health. Interestingly, Peter Gelb is quoted - he was president of Sony Classical Film & Video at the time. A couple of my favorite stories from the article:

  • In Boston she telephoned the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to complain that the Ritz-Carlton's room service had put peas in her pasta.
  • while riding in a limo in Southern California, she used the limo cell phone to call her management in NYC to complain about the temperature of the limo. Her management called the limo managers, who then called the limo driver to tell him to turn down the air conditioning.
  • After her appearances at the San Francisco Opera, the backstage crew sported T shirts that read: I SURVIVED THE BATTLE

Opera is a small professional world, and Joseph Volpe had a lot of respect for making this decision. I think the other impressarios decided "If she can't make work at the MET with Joe Volpe, then why the hell would we be able to work with her?" Anyway, she seems to have made a nice career for herself in concert performances. She didn't starve, and Harolyn Blackwell got a nice boost. I was lucky enough to see her not too long afterwards as Gilda in Rigoletto, which is a fun role.

Sorry if this is straying off topic.

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Someone mentioned Kathleen Battle earlier in this thread. Today i was sorting some boxes and came across the Feb.21, 1994 edition of Time magazine. Amazing edition, it covers the Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding conflict, the war in Sarajevo, the initial attempts at de-occupying portions of Gaza, the first free elections in South Africa (not so long after Nelson Mandela was freed), the brinksmanship between the USA and Japan on a trade agreement, the Tailhook scandal, and the initial Hilary Clinton - driven attempt at manditory employer paid health care legislation. The Culture section reviews the movie "Slackers", Edward Albee's play "Three Tall Women", and all the juicy gossip surrounding Kathleen Battle's firing by Joseph Volpe at the MET;

citing unprofessional actions....profoundly detrimental to the artistic collaboration among all the cast members....In doing so, he set off a grand international choruses of "It's about time."

http://www.time.com/...1940221,00.html

It's hard to imagine that she would participate in behind-the-scenes interviews that the MET gives today, given her extraordinarily erratic behavior. I also think the pressure of a live performance in HD would crush her psychological health. Interestingly, Peter Gelb is quoted - he was president of Sony Classical Film & Video at the time. A couple of my favorite stories from the article:

  • In Boston she telephoned the management of the Boston Symphony Orchestra to complain that the Ritz-Carlton's room service had put peas in her pasta.
  • while riding in a limo in Southern California, she used the limo cell phone to call her management in NYC to complain about the temperature of the limo. Her management called the limo managers, who then called the limo driver to tell him to turn down the air conditioning.
  • After her appearances at the San Francisco Opera, the backstage crew sported T shirts that read: I SURVIVED THE BATTLE

Opera is a small professional world, and Joseph Volpe had a lot of respect for making this decision. I think the other impressarios decided "If she can't make work at the MET with Joe Volpe, then why the hell would we be able to work with her?" Anyway, she seems to have made a nice career for herself in concert performances. She didn't starve, and Harolyn Blackwell got a nice boost. I was lucky enough to see her not too long afterwards as Gilda in Rigoletta, which is a fun role.

Sorry if this is straying off topic.

Yes, I doubt Battle would agree to any backstage interviews, although maybe she would if she got a list of the questions that would be asked and prepared her answers ahead of time. I have witnessed a phony side to her up close in person that she quickly puts on like a mask. It is like a super sweet persona that she puts on if she meets an aspiring singer backstage. Anyone else is treated with a very suspicious look. She suddenly goes from ultra defensive to super sweet and hugging the young singer. It is so obviously phony, because she changes in less than 2 seconds from very defensive to super sweet, and I suspect she would put that mask on when interviewed (if she were still singing at the Met and doing backstage intermission interviews). There is probably a clip still on YouTube where an interviewer talks to her about her concert and she is bubbly and happy but the minute the interviewer asks about her rumored backstage behavior she literally goes silent and angry and gets up and takes off the microphone and walks out.

Joseph Volpe devotes an entire chapter about her in his memoirs. But to tell you the truth I think he and other companies let things slide too long and let her get away with so much for so long that she got used to it and so when he finally slammed down on her it was totally unexpected for her (not anyone else). I am not condoning bad behavior. But a better management technique is to give warnings and consequences before you fire someone. She was a big star and big money maker. It is rare for a soubrette of her type to actually become so famous and command such attention or power. Soubrettes that sing mainly Adina and Despina rarely make it big. James Levine, who was supposedly her mentor and friend, is notorious for avoiding conflict or confrontation, and he really should have pulled her aside and told her to stop it or else get help. The whole story is actually rather sad. Someone who trashed an incredible (actually unbelievable) career. Yes, she sang concerts here and there but her career never really recovered, although it may have been her own choice.

I actually saw her one time in a concert with jazz musicians in which she sang in a jazz voice and less of an operatic voice. She released a cd of some of the songs. The cd does not convey her full ability at singing this repetoire. I really think she was a better jazz singer from hearing the concert than she was an opera singer. She could have had a career in that also, if she had wanted one.

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I'm a fan of both the interviews (especially Deborah Voigt's) and the sequences showing the stage hands at work. I've learned a great deal from both.

Ditto about Voigt. She is a great interviewer. Fleming was good too.

Voigt has a great sense of humor and can use it if something goes wrong to turn lemons into lemonade, and that is great. But it is tragic that a once INCREDIBLE voice is a shell of its former glory. I saw her when she was huge as a bus as Ariadne, Lady Macbeth, Tosca, and concerts, and it was powerhouse voice that had EVERYTHING you wanted in a voice. Beauty of sound, strength, high notes, low notes, huge voice, etc. Then, after her gastric bypass I heard her in Chicago as Salome and was shocked to hear a smallish voice that was no longer superhuman. It was fragile sounding to me. I thought, "Okay, she's getting used to her new body and having to use her muscles differently to produce sound, so give her time...." and she seemed to get better for a while but she never recovered her superhuman, amazing voice, in my opinion. In her defense, she is a better actress. I think she feels better in her body and is more willing to act and I like her stage acting much better. Before she had a glorious voice but mainly stood and sang, but it was such a voice that you were willing to give up the acting. But now the announcement of her singing Marie in Wozzeck next season really upsets me. That is usually a role sopranos take on late in their career when they realize they can no longer sing the diva roles. Or a young soprano might take the role and stop singing it the minute she gets known. But maybe she took it on b/c Levine is going to conduct. Maybe if I had never heard her before the surgery I would not be so sad. I mean, this was a GLORIOUS voice which might have gone down as one of the greatest voices of our time. But now it is simply a mediocre soprano voice that is trying to sing the toughest roles in the repetoire. It really saddens me.

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I need quiet during the performance, but the minute the curtain goes down for intermission it can be as noisy as a train station and it would not bother me.

Birdsall, I'm with you 100%.

I'm a highly emotional guy.....the kind that cries at touching TV commercials smile.png. Rarely does an Act go by without me crying at least once (normally because I find the music so incredibly beautiful, not normally because of the story). So I get really, really into it while the performance is on (I too detest those who insist on making noise.....and I am wont to indicate that to them in no uncertain terms). But once that curtain drops, I could care less what happens. Strike up a rock band if you like; I won't mind. I do often sit there for a minute or two just stunned by what I have seen, and emotionally exhausted, but soon I recover and wander about or in the case of the HD broadcasts, listen/watch to whatever is shown. I like the interviews and everything else that typically occurs.

There is one thing that can bug me a bit: some of the questions that are asked. Some questions just seem so inane or "standard". Frankly, I'd rather hear about how the costume fits that night than to hear one more time: "How has your approach to the role changed over time?" (I think if I were ever asked that ubiquitous question, I'd say something like: "Well, you know, it changes over time.")

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Frankly, I'd rather hear about how the costume fits that night than to hear one more time: "How has your approach to the role changed over time?" (I think if I were ever asked that ubiquitous question, I'd say something like: "Well, you know, it changes over time.")

Oh ouch -- since I'm often the person asking what a dancer has learned about a role on a subsequent performance!

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I actually saw her one time in a concert with jazz musicians in which she sang in a jazz voice and less of an operatic voice. She released a cd of some of the songs. The cd does not convey her full ability at singing this repetoire. I really think she was a better jazz singer from hearing the concert than she was an opera singer. She could have had a career in that also, if she had wanted one.

I've very fond of the recording she made with Jessye Norman of spirituals, but part of that comes from loving Jessye Norman...

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I actually saw her one time in a concert with jazz musicians in which she sang in a jazz voice and less of an operatic voice. She released a cd of some of the songs. The cd does not convey her full ability at singing this repetoire. I really think she was a better jazz singer from hearing the concert than she was an opera singer. She could have had a career in that also, if she had wanted one.

I've very fond of the recording she made with Jessye Norman of spirituals, but part of that comes from loving Jessye Norman...

Yes, I have seen the concert on video. Battle was probably at her best when she did encores involving simply singing a spiritual acapella which was something she often did at recitals. She showed that she had true talent. Not many dare to sing acapella like that totally exposing the voice to total scrutiny. And like I said, the more jazz-influenced concert I saw showed that she could have made it in that genre. She sang jazz like a jazz musician unlike Fleming (who always claims to have started in jazz yet still sounds totally wrong in jazz). In fact, I am surprised she did not pursue that more after her Met firing. Her few and far between performances in concert made me think she was sort of deflated and "over" the opera scene. I think it would have been easy for her to go into a jazz career. She seemed to know a lot of musicians in that genre, and they seemed to respect her.

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Oh ouch -- since I'm often the person asking what a dancer has learned about a role on a subsequent performance!

Oh, but Sandi, you only ask it when it's appropriate to do so......wink1.gifbiggrin.png

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