Und suche dir, Gänser, die Gans!
August 28, 2009
* Notes *
The final performance of Parsifal at this year's Bayreuther Festspiele was last night. The orchestra sounded fine under Daniele Gatti, and the chorus was absolutely lovely. The singing was good all around, everyone could be heard, even though the production did have the singers far upstage at times. Mihoko Fujimura was utterly terrifying as Kundry, her movements were reptilian and her voice stunning, without a trace of shrillness. Likewise, Thomas Jesatko (Klingsor) acted well and sang adeptly. Diógenes Randes was appropriately grave as Titurel, and Detlef Roth was deeply engaged with his role as Amfortas. Kwangchul Youn's rich, warm tones were welcome in his portrayal of Gurnemanz. In the title role, Christopher Ventris did not fail to impress. He sang with power and very little strain.
Stefan Herheim's production was nauseating, there was just so much going on, lots of movement, many lights and mirrors, and much noise during the music. It seemed that every moment was packed with explanation of not only the plot, but also something about German history in the 20th century. There were many cinematic references from campy musicals to Josef von Sternberg. At the same time, much of the staging felt highly predictable, for instance, the swan that appeared on a shield just above the bed in the middle of Act I was clearly going to be shot by Parsifal, and naturally, it was.
* Tattling *
The audience was far from silent, there was even yelling during the performance, especially when Nazis appeared on stage. The woman in Row 5 Seat 18 of the Right Parkett must have bathed in perfume, and her poor father had absolutely no idea what was going on with the opera. They were at least less idiotic than the person who took a flash photograph when a mirror was turned toward the audience.
There was some clapping at the end of Act I, which was hushed and hissed at by others. During the last curtain calls there were scattered boos for Gatti, but nothing near the palpable outrage about Die Meistersinger the previous evening.