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103 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - a great recording of "Parsifal" comes to DVD
Until now, I haven't felt that there was a recommendable "Parsifal" available on DVD. Nagano's version from the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is visually inane and musically uninspiring, while Levine's Metropolitan Opera version is safely traditional but unexpectedly dull.

Here is a version recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival in 1981. I've been very pleased to...
Published on 29 July 2007 by Mr. Christian Hoskins

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All Around Adequate
This, Wolfgang Wagner's first production of his grandfather's final masterpiece, was a traditionalist reaction to his elder brother's famous 30 year old iconoclastic staging. The sets are very attractive, but the direction misses many opportunities for emotional depth and psychological insight. The singers are generally very good, but all have done better elsewhere...
Published on 5 April 2011 by L. Lubin


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103 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - a great recording of "Parsifal" comes to DVD, 29 July 2007
By 
Mr. Christian Hoskins (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Until now, I haven't felt that there was a recommendable "Parsifal" available on DVD. Nagano's version from the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is visually inane and musically uninspiring, while Levine's Metropolitan Opera version is safely traditional but unexpectedly dull.

Here is a version recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival in 1981. I've been very pleased to find that this is, with some caveats, an outstanding version of the opera.

In Act 1, the character of Gurnemanz is of critical importance since it is his role to explain the background of Kundry, Amfortas, Titurel, Klingsor and the spear to the audience. Fortunately Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz and conductor Horst Stein bring every facet of the story to life. I've heard Stein's conducting in this performance described as pedestrian. Not so. The orchestral response is thrilling in the Transformation Music, and the singing of the Grail Knights in the following section is magnificent.

As for Siegfried Jerusalem, this performance finds him, aged 41, fairly near the beginning of his operatic career (he was a bassoonist until the age of 35). Nevertheless, it seems he was already an excellent Parsifal, and this recording allows him to shine more than the Levine DVD from 1992. Matti Salminen is towering (and unmistakable) as Titurel, and Bernd Weikl conveys all of Amfortas's pain and anguish.

I didn't think that Act 2 was quite as successful, largely on account of Eva Randova's Kundry. I found her voice unduly shrill. For me that detracted from the latter half of the act where Kundry's role is so important. On the positive side, Stein is impressive in the chromatic music representing Klingsor's kingdom, and he brings a sense of eroticism to the Flower Maidens' music that harks back to "Tristan".

Things are back on track in Act 3. A particular highlight is the Good Friday music, which is given a performance of enormous power and beauty. I've never heard it sound so moving, despite owning the 1951 Knappertsbusch recording of "Parsifal" and the orchestral-only performances by Jochum and Furtwängler. The end of the opera is radiant. One almost is almost disappointed by the lack of applause on the DVD.

Wolfgang Wagner's staging seem quite traditional to me: a leafy forest glade for Act 1, a vaulting chamber for the castle. The 1981 video transfer is clear. As so often, the video direction is by Brian Large. The sound is generally excellent, although the volume does not always seem consistent between acts.

In summary, despite the problem I have with Act 2, I feel that this is a great recording of "Parsifal". I'd recommend it without hesitation.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Production, 28 Dec 2003
By 
E. A. Redfearn "eredfearn2" (Middlesbrough) - See all my reviews
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Produced by the same team which produced the wonderful Der Ring Des Nibelungen in New York. Its a very fine production which is what to be expected from the maestros of the New York Metropolitan Opera. Wagner's final opera can be an ordeal to sit through at times due to its enormous length and subject matter. But if you are a die-hard Wagnerian it wont matter because this is a must see. Siegfried Jerusalem sings his part as Parsifal with much style and emotion. Veteran singer Kurt Moll is a very fine Gurnemanz indeed. But the star of the opera is the lovely Waltraud Meier who brings much passion to the difficult role of Kundry. Overall, the production cannot be really faulted. James Levine, as always conducts the New York Met Orchestra with his professionalism and style. However, it cannot really match the intensity of the famous Knappersbutsch Bayreuth 1962 recording which is still available on CD. Still, am sure any Wagnerian will welcome this addition to the ever growing DVD Opera catalogue. One thing though which needs to be mentioned; make sure your scart lead is in RGB socket on your television and that the RGB connection is on at setup in the DVD Menu page, otherwise picture will be in black and white and look grainy.
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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bingo! This is the one., 2 Aug 2007
This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Finally the quest for the holy grail is over: A performance/production of Parsifal on Dvd that is really worth investing in and really helps you appreciate that in fact Parsifal IS a great opera.

My knowledge of Parsifal is limited to the Nagano Dvd and the Levine/New York Met production (similar to the first reviewer here). I have seen a couple of live performances and have a few recordings on dvd (Von Karajan, Knappertsbusch (1962), Levine). I can say that, regarding dvds, whereas the Nagano production suffers from: a) conducting that seems to me to lack feeling and, b) from being another silly modern stage, and while the Levine production is: a) sluggish with unimaginative tempi and, b) lacking in dramatic effect, this Bayreuth version is conducted with pace by Stein but is nevertheless replete with ethereal atmospheric effect induced by a really effective layering of the score, the staging is perfect - not cluttered, but scenic and in fact beautiful - and individual performances in terms of singing and acting are really first rate.

Ultimately this recording illustrates how fundamental it is to adhere to Wagner's stage instructions to maximize not only dramatic effect but, I believe, also to bring out the sheer beauty of the music. Stein, backed by an excellent orchestra, conducts well for sure but the fact that there is real synthesis between music and drama - the gesamtkunstwerk of which Wagner extolled - really does serve to facilitate both: the music seems more apt and imbued with significance, the drama simultaneously drives and is driven by the music. The music and the drama make sense when harmonized in this manner - a far cry from many, if not most modern stagings, such as a recent live production I saw that was set in an institution for the mentally ill; in what way is the prideful, sombre marching music of the knights befitting of a congregation of nutters in a loony bin!?!?! Ridiculous!

I have to say I hate modern productions and they are potentially killing off new generations of would-be Wagner enthusiasts. The difference in effect on a Wagner neophyte seeing this Bayreuth production as compared to seeing one of the dodgy modern translations would be palpable - it is essentially the difference between rendering the opera quasi transcendental and rendering it an absurdity. That modern stagers think they can outdo the work of a genius who made it his life-time obsession to perfect every last detail of his mature opera works is in itself absurd!

Now for some details:
As I have mentioned the staging is excellent and the dramaturgy pretty much faultless throughout.
Siegfried Jerusalem is absolutely excellent as Parsifal here. He is about 12 years younger than in the Levine/Met Opera Dvd version which I think makes all the difference since we must assume that 'der reine tor' is not a man well into his fifties. Furthermore, he seems to be vocally at his peak here; his voice is powerful and perfectly nuanced and controlled. His acting is appropriate for Parsifal who must come over as being naive but not an imbecile (by contrast I have seen Jerusalem play Siegfried, a character not dissimilar to Parsifal in many ways, as an imbecile in Dvd versions of Siegfried and Gotterdammerung).
Sotin as Gurnemanz and Weikl as Amfortas are also perfect both in terms of singing and acting. Sotin is much subtler than, for example, Kurt Moll in the Met production whose 'acting' appears to revolve around glancing at the conductor every five seconds for guidance. As Amfortas Weikl looks and plays the part and his interaction with the Knights in the two grail scenes has a real visceral edge to it lacking in other productions.
Randova as Kundry, for the most part, is also excellent. I would agree with the first reviewer here that her voice is perhaps insufficiently sweet to be convincingly seductive in Act 2. This is something of a fault and lacks the power of Waltraud Meier's performance in the Levine Dvd. You can understand Parsifal's struggle to remain 'pure' when confronted with the lyrical and visual treat of Meier but not quite so much with Randova although she is not exactly weak in this respect. The flower-maiden scene is done so well that this somewhat compensates for the relative lack of 'seduction effect'. Randova is very good, however, as the wretched alter-ego of Kundry, her screams of anguish seem pertinent rather than melodramatic.

Some small gripes. In the final scene Kundry is supposed to fall 'lifeless to the ground' - this does not happen here and I think it is a fault albeit not a debilitating one. The beam of light, used in other productions, that should fall on the grail when in the office of Parisfal is also lacking which I think somewhat detracts from dramatic effect and the significance of the work.
I can live with these omissions as I can with Randova's less than particularly seductive voice in the 2nd act because everything else is spot on.

So, in a nutshell, if you want a traditional Wagner rendition of Parsifal that synthesizes music and drama as facilitated by truly excellent acting and singing engendering perfectly the atmospheric effect I believe Wagner would have wanted, then you MUST buy this. It is Wagner's gesamtkunstwerk at about as high a degree as you are likely to see - probably on dvd or any performance live now that the evil Wagner hating modernist stagers have saturated the opera world.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The True Bayreuth Experience, 15 Dec 2010
By 
M. Raynes "Martin Raynes - Daft Tory Backwood... (The barren wastes of Aylesbury) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I recently purchased the DVD of this production of Parsifal which was recorded at Bayreuth in the early 1980s. The production is directed by Wolfgang Wagner and the conductor is the Swiss maestro and Bayreuth regular Horst Stein (both are sadly no longer with us).

This production has a special place in my heart as it was the first Wagner work that I actually experienced live in the Festspielhaus. That was in 1982 and this recording was made the year before. I recall that it was broadcast by the BBC at Easter one year sometime later on in the decade.

Anyway enough personal reminiscence. The production is a fairly conventional one by the standards that opera goers experience nowadays. The costumes seem right and the scenery is suggestive rather than representational. The lighting is good. All in all the work is presented to us in a way that will not distract us from the singing and playing.

The orchestral playing is sublime and we have Wagner's incandescent score given a sensitive and exquisite performance by Horst Stein and the Festival Orchestra. The choral singing is all one would expect from Bayreuth at this time. In terms of the soloists Hans Sotin and Bernd Weikl take the honours with Siegfried Jerusalem also deserving much credit. Eva Randova is not the best Kundry I have seen or heard and her upper register is a little strident. However, I recall the passion and fire in my heart as I walked out of the Festspielhaus after the second act into the evening air back in the summer of August 1982 and I forgive her failings in a way that others who had not experienced the intensity of the live performance cannot be expected to.

I can whole heartedly recommend this DVD recording of Parsifal. It gives a true account of a moving performance of one of the world's greatest works of art - and all for 8.99 at Amazon as at the time of me writing this review!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Only One You Need, 18 Sep 2010
By 
Carl Vaughan "CTV" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This production provides just about everything I want from a Wagner opera. The setting is traditional, in that there is a recognizable forest and cathedral, and the costumes are in keeping with the idea of a religious order of knights etc. Scene changing is done via cross-fades, removing the need for obtrusive stage-hands interrupting the opera. While "stage business" may be a necessary evil to a live audience I see no problem with discreet editing for video release. One slight caveat here, though; the spear catching was also done by editing, and is a little abrupt, but in it's favour it produces a mild shock at just the right moment, and the symbolism is clear.
The real pleasure in this release, though, is that I can imagine no better cast of singers all at once in the same opera! Hans Sotin as Gurnemanz sings in a dignified manner befitting a High Priest, as does Bernd Weikl as Amfortas. Leif Roar is suitably menacing as Klingsor, and, as with all the principals, he looks and acts credibly. But the entire opera belongs to the interplay between Siegfried Jerusalem and Eva Randova; The Act 2 Temptation/Curse scene is absolutely exemplary. Both characters look the part - he a young hero, she a sultry temptress - and do not require us to "forgive" the less fortunate physiques of many a great Wagnerian singer, while for a full half-hour we are treated to singing which is clear, expressive and true to pitch, with none of this sliding up to notes so common among Wagner singers. This practise strikes me as an aural equivalent of hoisting up one's underwear, and is mercifully absent here. Randova particularly shines in the incredibly difficult chromaticisms of the attempted seduction. Pure Wagnerian bliss!
The 5.1 orchestral sound is rich and clear - a common problem with video releases which normally only a studio recording can alleviate, but this release is as good as any video I have ever heard, while the balance between voices and orchestra remains rock steady.
I am not always convinced that a blood relationship to a composer conveys real authority on an interpretation, and Wolfgang Wagner's Meistersinger is an example which I feel doesn't work, but here I have no hesitation in thinking that Richard would wholeheartedly approve of this.

A fully earned five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Near perfection, 17 Dec 2009
By 
J. Rippon (Staffordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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Having viewed most of Wagner's Operas on DVD, I was coming to the conclusion that there are just three types of production; good singing performances with dreadfully pretentious settings/interpretations which trample all over Wagner's stated intentions (which applies to the majority of productions I have seen and is unfortunately still the current fashion); authentic productions with mediocre singing; and mediocre singing with rubbish production. Until now. This DVD has everything I have been looking for. The casting is nigh-on perfect with singing to match. Waltraud Meier, with her great physical beauty, wonderful singing and fantastic acting is a truly great Kundry. Siegfried Jerusalem excels himself in the role of Parsifal. He sings and acts with conviction throughout. Kurt Moll and Bernd Weikl are excellent as Gurnemanz and Amfortas but Franz Mazura as Klingsor is just superb. He would certainly have stolen the show in Act II if he had not been matched with Meier. The interaction between these two is just fantastic. I have watched this scene a number of times and it never palls. The singing and acting are throughout performed against traditional and quite sumptuous sets. The opera itself is perhaps not the most accessible of Wagner's works but because this production sticks closely to Wagner's stated and implied intentions, this is by far the easiest version to follow I have come across. Unlike some reviewers of opera DVDs, I quite like a performance in front of a live audience. I find that the accompanying coughing and shuffling adds a touch of occasion and immediacy to the performance. I also enjoy the applause at the end, especially when I endorse the sentiment as here. My only reservation is that in this production they take curtain calls between acts. I really dislike this practice. I feel they break the emotional continuity of the opera and reduce the impact of the final calls. However, this is just a quibble and it's easy to hit the FF button. I feel sure that this is the sort of authentic total production of which Wagner would have approved and the sort of production I would love to own for each of Wagner's operas. Highly recommended.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it really is the one., 21 April 2008
This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
My favourite performance of this work, not only on video but also musically. Jerusalem is in his prime (if only his later Siegfrieds and Tristans preserved the voice in this state), and Weikl is simply the greatest Amfortas -- an underrated baritone in his finest role, rising fully to the 3rd Act demands which Fischer-Dieskau and Van Dam so glaringly fail to meet. In all other respects it's more than acceptable, and the production, which I saw live, captures the unique atmosphere of the work and the venue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars parsifal, 23 July 2010
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This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I agree with all the reviews, that this is a first class performance. The only comment I would make is that I would liked to have seen the orchestra during the prelude rather showing a garden scene.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Complete Parsifal, 25 Mar 2013
By 
I. Zaneres (west midlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Parsifal: Bayreuther Festpiele (Stein) [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This is my third attempt at finding a production of Parsifal that fullfills all my expectations.
Teatro La Fenice is stark and depressing, though the music is fine, similarly with Nagano Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, the set designer has had a touch of the sun, or a rush of blood.
On to the current reviewed item the sets are what I expect or even better, totally appropriate to the storyline, and with some very nice touches like the destruction of Klingsors palace.
The costumes fit my conception of what they should be. The flower maidens are particularly beautiful.
The voices, Hans Sotin with his sonorous tones is very impressive. Matti Salminen is as always good in character, and rich in voice. Bernd Weikl has a most pleasant vibrato, and a rounded sound that is most listenable.
Siegfried Jerusalem is by far the best Parsifal of the three versions that I now own. He is a true professionel in all aspects, an excellent performance.
I perhaps should have been a gentleman and put ladies first, but Eva Randova in her portrayal of Kundry is also best staged and performed of the three versions of which I am familiar. She has a very clear voice and plenty of power for the emotional bits.
Picture quality is acceptable, sound very good and the orchestral interpretation much to my liking.
The booklet has timings, a comprehensive synopsis, item by item, and notes on Wolfgang Wagners original production.
Of course there may be better productions on the other DVDs that are available but I shall not pursue them in fear of disappointment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite music., 2 July 2012
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Now, you would think as I have only given this 4-stars that I don't think this is excellent, but you'd be wrong. I just think the rather pedestrian conducting (which slows the pace a little too much), coupled with the static production (especially Act I), just removes this from perfection.
It is gorgeoulsy sung, but Amfortas is better served elsewhere (Baden Baden), but that may be a fault of the production. Also, Klinsors kingdom didn't overwhelm me with malevolence as it should.
Siegfried Jerusalem makes a fine Parsifal, but I suspect if this had been captured a few years earlier, then he would be fresher of voice. Waltraud Meier is a wonderful Kundry, but vocally I prefer Jesse Norman, who also sang in this production, but it wasn't televised. I have a Matinee recording of it and hopefully one day the Met will make it available in its historic broadcast series.
For all that I have said, I do think this is an excellent recording and well worth having in your collection - but the version from Baden-Baden is far superior and I dream that one day they'll release a Bluray of the 2005 Vienna recording with Domingo and Meier, which is to die for and is currently out on CD (DG 00289-477-6006).
As a final after thought, I can't get out of mind the production which opens at the Met in February 2013 (which I am desperately trying to get tickets for) with Jonas Kaufmann as Parsifal and Rene Pape as Gurnemanz. Now, that will definately be out on Bluray and I await it eagerly.
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