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Wagner: Parsifal [DVD] [2010]

12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Christopher Ventris, Waltraud Meier, Matti Salminen, Tom Fox, Thomas Hampson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, Classical, Colour, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 29 Mar. 2005
  • Run Time: 317 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007X9T70
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 76,784 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Christopher Ventris and Waltraud Meier lead an international cast in Nikolaus Lehnhoff's visionary production of Wagner's last opera, recorded live at the Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden in 2004. Kent Nagano conducts the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin and the Festspielchor Baden-Baden.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Loge on 30 Dec. 2007
This is a beautiful, intensely moving and profound Parsifal, acted with great commitment by a super-star Wagnerian cast. Modern, but timeless. Leaving all one's preconceptions of this, Wagner's most "difficult" work, before watching a new production allows one to take it on its own level and within its own dramatic framework. Difficult for such a symbol-laden "stage consecration play", it pays off here with an intense redemptive re-imagining of Wagner's greatest work.

Waltraut Meier is an astonishing Kundry. Meier convincingly portrays Kundry's radical transformation from feral wild woman to seductress to a mortuary shroud-wrapped "Servant of the Servants", with extraordinary bravura and feeling, the vocal difficulties of the role and its extremes of character pose no difficulties for her. Kundry is, perhaps, Wagner's most complex creation; combining as she does half-a-dozen or so characters from the original Wolfram von Eschenbach epic on which the work is based. Meier's convincing and compelling performance is a real achievement.

Amfortas (brilliantly acted and sung by Thomas Hampson), "lebendig begraben - buried alive in his own death" (Hampson), is tortured and desperate, a harrowing representation of his physical and psychological pain. By Act III Amfortas has given up, hiding from the knights in a pit of corpses with his dead father's body. The Knights - the war-wounded survivors of an apocalyptic defeat - show no sympathy for Amfortas' refusal to serve and, panicked by Titurel's death, now bully and abuse Amfortas to secure their "miracle". The Grail Hall has become a place without love. In this performance the decline of Amfortas (and that of the Knights) is physical, drastic and visceral.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 Jun. 2012
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For me, Parsifal is just the most sublime master-work of all time and I possess several recordings. This version was bound to divide the critics and indeed it did, combining cliche with the riduculous in a post-apopalyptic world. I have to confess that when I first saw Titurel, I laughed, but by the time his dried out, empty cadaver is pulled from the decaying pit by Amfortas in Act III, I was in tears.
I was disappointed with Klingsor's kingdom, as I often am when I see it (sometimes images conjured up by such expressive music are best left to the imagination), but Tom Fox gives such a convincing portrayal that I soon forgot my disappointment.
Act III is just divine - it always surprises me that I am not irritated by the obvious cliche of the 'end of civilisation' represented by 'the end of the railway' or by Kundry following after Parsifal in servitude as the final chords die away - but, somehow it worked.
I've seen better Parsifals in the theatre than Christopher Ventris (like-wise I've seen a lot worse!), but he moved me. Waltraud Meier is superb and Matti Salminen is insurpassable in the role of Gurnemanz.
Then, there is Tom Hampson - has there ever been a more moving, impassioned and better perfomance of Amfortas than his? If there has, I've never seen or heard it. I could recommend this set just for you to witness and experience his Amfortas - has the wound ever felt more painful?
Nagano weaves a magical spell over the music (why couldn't he have done that in Lohengrin?) which casts you, mercilessly, into this decaying, fractured world.
This set is well worth investing in, but if you want to immerse yourself body and soul into the audio experience, then get a copy of the CD set from the Vienna State Opera (DG 00289-477-6006). In my view, it is one of the most perfect recording ever made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. A. Crowther on 6 April 2010
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Wagner's Parsifal is perhaps a little like Shakespeare's Hamlet, in that one feels that one could never see a perfect performance: the work is so mysterious, transcendental and layered that there must always be some ineffable element that might be missing. However, having said that, I would like to recommend this production as the best on DVD that I expect to see in my lifetime.

All the pricipals sing superbly, led by Christopher Ventris - the finest Parsifal of our time. The conducting by Kent Nagano is uniformly sympathetic, with a splendid rendition from the Deutsche Symphonie Orchester. Also, stage direction by Nikolaus Lehnhoff and sets and costumes are imaginative. One tiny criticism is that personally I did not like the way Titurel was represented - it had too much of the reptile about it, but this is indeed a small quibble. There may be a few more personal quibbles like this (e.g. the handling when Klingsor throws the spear in Act 2 was a little clumsy) but overall, this is very fine production. The sound quality of the DVD was also excellent, with a good balance between the singers and orchestra - always a critical question in Wagner.

So, in summary - a near perfect work - buy it if you have no Parsifal DVD, buy it if you have another as well!
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Risteard Mac An Bhearshuiligh on 28 Jan. 2006
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Musically, this is a superb Parsifal. It comes with stereo and 5.1 tracks, and the 5.1 track is the finest I have heard on my modest TV surround system. Kent Nagano conducts at a balanced pace, not too quick, but without the excessive plodding of many Wagner conductors (Wagner himself was believed to have been the quickest Wagner conductor of all).
Matti Salminen gives a reference performance as Gurnemanz, as does Waltraud Meier as Kundry, who continues to be the best in this part I have seen, and does not disappoint in this production. The rest of the singers fit this production well, with Thomas Hampson as a tortured Amfortas, Christopher Ventris as a truly wild young Parsifal, yet assuming the full dignity required for the final act. Tom Fox is a mesmerising Klingsor, and Bjarni Thor Kristinsson is a resonant and commanding Titurel.
I was slightly put off by the post-apocalyptic setting when I ordered this opera, but tried it as I tried the Rings of Chereau and Zvoboda in the early 80s.
This setting has been a revelation. Parsifal was once described by a leading Nazi as part of the creed of Nazism, yet was banned by Goebbels in 1939, supposedly for its pacifist message and for its baptism of a semitic heroine.
Lenhoff's production throws aside the Teutonic symbolism with which Wagner's staging entwines Parsifal with German destiny, and gives us a universal Parsifal. The words may be Christian, but the message of inclusivity created by Kundry leading the nights to the grail is a novel ending that turns this into a world piece of art.
If you find Parsifal in any way difficult because of Nazi attempts to adopt it, this is the work for you. Highly recommended.
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