I'm not going to quibble about modern productions, as it's always refreshing to see something like Parsifal not in pseudo Arthurian costume or classical European churchy settings. There's an interesting overview of how long conductors take to get through this score on Wikipedia, and whether it takes four or nearly five hours to perform I'm inclined to judge on quality, not quantity. And we can accept a setting for what it is, without feeling it's "relevant" to us.
There's certainly a bleak futuristic feel to this production which provides a hi-tech sci-fi atmosphere which I'm sure will impress people not familiar with opera; the periodic injection of colour is striking when it appears. Unlike some I just love the new world of projections and effects in operas especially from the Met; after years of watching singers strut about stages unable to act its refreshing to see Jonas Kaufmann, Katarina Dalayman, Rene Pape et al add a very 'filmic' dimension to the performance. And in support of them, I'd love to see a movie actor maintain something like 'anguish' or 'pity' for twenty minutes!
The projections for me do not intrude and add an amazing backdrop to some of the orchestral passages. Sometimes music is the only backdrop we need and although some modern productions are not entirely evident in their reasoning, a static feel often allows the music to speak for itself: an original intention of opera.
For such a mammoth piece I have to say I wasn't bored at any moment; I thought I would be. Dalayman is intense and allows us to share her internal portrayal, Kaufmann develops his character sympathetically and is as wonderful as ever, Mattei is gloriously lyrical; there are no embarrassing 'faux' emotions.
The landscape of Acts 1 and 3 is impressive - but maybe only because of the projections - and Act 2's cavernous space acted mostly in a real pool of blood-coloured water is effective. The bed makes sense! What doesn't make sense to me is the use of plastic stacking chairs. Please, can producers find something a bit more timeless for a timeless setting? It put me in mind of Richard Jones' Lohengrin and the formica table! The end of Act 2 was a little weak from an action point of view, for such a triumph in the story. The choreographic style in Act 2 I did find a little dated, but it was effective and clever to have the singers blend with the corps de ballet in the way they did.
The Met orchestra is powerful, thoughtfully and lovingly conducted by Gatti, and I didn't sense any loss of power like some reviewing the Blu-Ray have done. On DVD through a normal TV with good headphones, I found the climaxes positively cataclysmic.
One thing which can be said about this production is that the continuity is superb; the interview with Girard shows him to be unpretentious and quite humbled by the opera itself. From this, I accepted his interpretation alone.
This is a beautifully sung and very tastefully staged production. The first act, in less masterful hands than Gatti's, can drag if a conductor and cast aren't up to the job, but the ensemble here is astonishingly good. It's the first time I can say I have been able to get how innovative Wagner's music is in Parsifal, even by Wagner's own standard.
I particularly love the Act 2 stage design, and Klingsor is suitably evil and mesmerising in the opening scene. I like the way Gatti just launches the orchestra into act 2 as soon as he comes into the orchestra pit and takes to the podium to enthusiastic applause.
I watched this first at a live cinema broadcast and had to get the blue ray as soon as it was released. Super performances especially from Jonas Kaufman and Katirina Dalyman. The music is sublime. Enjoyed the whole opera and have watched the last scene many times.