26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
a disaster, saved by Kaufmann
, 18 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Wagner: Parsifal (Gatti) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
Perhaps I was spoiled by seeing the Stefan Herheim production at Bayreuth in 2011 with Daniele Gatti conducting; watching this very different production (on Bluray) was both shocking and disappointing.
This production is long at 4 hours 26 minutes. The tempo is so different it seemed like a completely different work, apart from the music (which was so ponderously performed at times that I wondered what had caused such a catharsis). The long first act, a sluggish 1hr56" -- by contrast Herheim's was a much more appropriate 1hr41" - is particularly wearisome with Mr Gatti's conducting and the spartan set.
Also, it is set in a "post apocalyptic" world with basically modern costumes for men but (oddly) sackcloth for women. The sets are a lunar landscape in acts 1 and 3 with interesting if distracting backdrops, and a rather overly symbolic bloody chasm, with just a bed, for most of act 2.
The beauty of the Herheim production, which was nevertheless controversial and certainly not to everyone's taste, was that it was genuinely creative in its settings for each act. It is therefore highly regrettable that the recording of his 2012 Bayreuth production although broadcast on Arte and available on Youtube (in sadly poor quality) has been withheld for "legal reasons" and barring a change of heart or some common sense is unlikely to see the light of day again.
This cast is headed by the superb Jonas Kaufmann, with Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor as the only other really good lead singer. The Met Orchestra performs well but in my view the production as a whole is well less than the sum of the parts and is thus most disappointing.
The producer Francois Girard, a French Canadian film director, has previously directed for Cirque du Soleil and has staged Siegfried for the Canadian Opera; this production first appeared in Lyon in 2012. In the programme book for the Met production he comments that his goal "is to engage a modern audience and to let this piece say things that matter without kidnapping it and throwing it into a new context, which I think is being done to Wagner too often". Unfortunately, I think that this sums up his approach only too well.
Opera is quite different from Film and I suspect Monsieur Girard may wish to reflect on this. His Emperor's new clothes are not visible to everyone!
[later note: I am aware Amazon readers don't like negative reviews. The more readers vote against negative reviews, the fewer honest reviews you will see.]
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