* Notes *
François Girard's production of Parsifal opened at the Metropolitan Opera on Friday. The contemporary set features stark imagery. The red lake that dominates the second act (pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) is particularly striking. The angular choreography fits nicely with the staging and the clean costuming. The video is difficult to view in Family Circle, but seems benign and includes images of clouds, aurora borealis, and water. At times, the rippling effects were a bit overblown. The lighting is pleasing. The last scene involves Parsifal putting the Holy Spear in the Grail held by Kundry, a nod to the pagan fertility rituals that may have given rise to the Arthurian romances on which this work is based. For some reason this struck me as clumsy compared to the sleek modernity of Act II.
Conducted by Daniele Gatti, the orchestra played moderately, sounding neither austere nor sprightly. The brass was clear. The chorus was as impressive as ever: perfectly synchronized, strong, and full. Katarina Dalayman was not an alluring Kundry, but she did seem more than half-mad. Evgeny Nikitin was a convincing Klingsor. Peter Mattei was likewise believable as Amfortas, and his voice is immediately appealing. René Pape shone as Gurnemanz. His voice is warm and rich, and he sounds imposing. Jonas Kaufmann did well with the title role, though I find his voice less readily likeable than others, perhaps because of his nasality. Kaufmann was riveting in Act II Scene 2. He has a keen understanding of what he is singing and can convey this to the audience.
* Tattling *
Every sort of bad behavior was on display for the prima. Watch alarms sounded, mobile phones rang, photographs were taken, some talked, others snored, and there was applause after the first act. During the performance of Act I, someone in Family Circle demanded, at full volume, that he not be touched again.