Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



Plumbago_9780993198359_1.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Performances

Music for a While: Rowan Pierce and Christopher Glynn at Ryedale Online

“Music for a while, shall all your cares beguile.”

A Musical Reunion at Garsington Opera

The hum of bees rising from myriad scented blooms; gentle strains of birdsong; the cheerful chatter of picnickers beside a still lake; decorous thwacks of leather on willow; song and music floating through the warm evening air.

'In my end is my beginning': Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida perform Winterreise at Wigmore Hall

All good things come to an end, so they say. Let’s hope that only the ‘good thing’ part of the adage is ever applied to Wigmore Hall, and that there is never any sign of ‘an end’.

Iestyn Davies and Elizabeth Kenny bring 'sweet music' to Wigmore Hall

Countertenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Elizabeth Kenny kicked off the final week of live lunchtime recitals broadcast online and on radio from Wigmore Hall.

From Our House to Your House: live from the Royal Opera House

I’m not ashamed to confess that I watched this live performance, streamed from the stage of the Royal Opera House, with a tear in my eye.

Woman’s Hour with Roderick Williams and Joseph Middleton at Wigmore Hall

At the start of this lunchtime recital, Roderick Williams set out the rationale behind the programme that he and pianist Joseph Middleton presented at Wigmore Hall, bringing to a close a second terrific week of live lunchtime broadcasts, freely accessible via Wigmore Hall’s YouTube channel and BBC Radio 3.

Natalya Romaniw - Arion: Voyage of a Slavic Soul

Sailing home to Corinth, bearing treasures won in a music competition, the mythic Greek bard, Arion, found his golden prize coveted by pirates and his life in danger.

Purcell’s The Indian Queen from Lille

Among the few compensations opera lovers have had from the COVID crisis is the abundance – alas, plethora – of streamed opera productions we might never have seen or even known of without it.

Philip Venables' Denis & Katya: teenage suicide and audience complicity

As an opera composer, Philip Venables writes works quite unlike those of many of his contemporaries. They may not even be operas at all, at least in the conventional sense - and Denis & Katya, the most recent of his two operas, moves even further away from this standard. But what Denis & Katya and his earlier work, 4.48 Psychosis, have in common is that they are both small, compact forces which spiral into extraordinarily powerful and explosive events.

A new, blank-canvas Figaro at English National Opera

Making his main stage debut at ENO with this new production of The Marriage of Figaro, theatre director Joe Hill-Gibbins professes to have found it difficult to ‘develop a conceptual framework for the production to inhabit’.

Massenet’s Chérubin charms at Royal Academy Opera

“Non so più cosa son, cosa faccio … Now I’m fire, now I’m ice, any woman makes me change colour, any woman makes me quiver.”

Bluebeard’s Castle, Munich

Last year the world’s opera companies presented only nine staged runs of Béla Bartòk’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera of Chicago

If obsession is key to understanding the dramatic and musical fabric of Tchaikovsky’s opera The Queen of Spades, the current production at Lyric Opera of Chicago succeeds admirably in portraying such aspects of the human psyche.

WNO revival of Carmen in Cardiff

Unveiled by Welsh National Opera last autumn, this Carmen is now in its first revival. Original director Jo Davies has abandoned picture postcard Spain and sun-drenched vistas for images of grey, urban squalor somewhere in modern-day Latin America.

Lise Davidsen 'rescues' Tobias Kratzer's Fidelio at the Royal Opera House

Making Fidelio - Beethoven’s paean to liberty, constancy and fidelity - an emblem of the republican spirit of the French Revolution is unproblematic, despite the opera's censor-driven ‘Spanish’ setting.

A sunny, insouciant Così from English Touring Opera

Beach balls and parasols. Strolls along the strand. Cocktails on the terrace. Laura Attridge’s new production of Così fan tutte which opened English Touring Opera’s 2020 spring tour at the Hackney Empire, is a sunny, insouciant and often downright silly affair.

A wonderful role debut for Natalya Romaniw in ENO's revival of Minghella's Madama Butterfly

The visual beauty of Anthony Minghella’s 2005 production of Madama Butterfly, now returning to the Coliseum stage for its seventh revival, still takes one’s breath away.

Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle

It appears that Charlie Parker’s Yardbird has reached the end of its road in Seattle. Since it opened in 2015 at Opera Philadelphia it has played Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and the English National Opera.

La Périchole in Marseille

The most notable of all Péricholes of Offenbach’s sentimental operetta is surely the legendary Hortense Schneider who created the role back in 1868 at Paris’ Théâtre des Varietés. Alas there is no digital record.

Three Centuries Collide: Widmann, Ravel and Beethoven

It’s very rare that you go to a concert and your expectation of it is completely turned on its head. This was one of those. Three works, each composed exactly a century apart, beginning and ending with performances of such clarity and brilliance.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Performances

 [Photo by Matthias Baus]
25 Jan 2017

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) consistently serves up superlatively sung Wagner productions. This Fall, its productions of Philipp Stölzl's Parsifal and Kasper Holten's Lohengrin offered intoxicating musical affairs. Annette Dasch, Klaus Florian Vogt, and Peter Seiffert reached for the stars. Even when it comes down to last minute replacements, the casting is topnotch.

Wagner at the Deutsche Oper Berlin Part I: Stölzl’s Psychedelic Parsifal

A review by David Pinedo

Photos by Matthias Baus

 

Donald Runnicles led Parsifal, and Alex Kober took care of Lohengrin. The stagings were not by the same director nor in any way connected. Still, it felt pleasantly familiar to return to DOB with the rich sound of the orchestra and the superior singers musically connecting the connections of Wagner’s father and son mythology. I preferred Holten’s Lohengrin straightforward staging rather than Stölzl’s convoluted, though intellectually stimulating, madness in Parsifal. The shortcomings or excesses on stage barely mattered against the superlative musical experience.

Premiering in 2012, Stölzl’s psychedelic Parsifal trip visualizes in three tableaux vivants the gruesome sides to religion. Far from the healing timelessness usually experienced during Wagner’s last opera, Stölzl’s merging of different narratives with Wagner’s already convoluted mythology made for some tricky confusion.

Was Stölzl trying to approach Wagner’s Parsifal with a tongue-in-cheek angle? Klaus Florian Vogt, dressed like John Travolta in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, seemed to be on a hallucinatory experience through space and time. Kathi Maurer’s anachronistic, yet stylish, black suit made this Parsifal totally out of place in Stölzl’s historical settings.

I-Crucifixion-of-Jesus.png

In Act I, Parsifal ends up at Jesus’s Crucifixion. At first I thought Kundry might have doubled for Mary Magdalene, but then her laughter confused me. And were the Knights of the Grail here Crusaders?

The dying Amfortas was accompanied by a dimly lit stage. Stumbling on Mount Golgotha as if he jumped out of a time warp, Vogt’s lithe tenor voice brightened up the stage that, together with Ulrich Niepel’s mood altering lighting, effectively purified the gruesome biblical scene. The profoundly impressive Choirs of the DOB closed Act I, and made up for Stölzl’s taxing affairs on stage.

In the Second Act, we move on to Aztec times, where Klingsor appears to be Chief of the tribe. We get another human sacrifice. Here the electrifying Flower Maidens turn out to be cannibals after Parsifal. Kundry with her scream saves Parsifal. He kills Klingsor with the spear. By now I had given up on disentangling Stölzl’s historical superimpositions on Wagner’s cosmos. I let myself just be swept away in Runnicles’s blissful momentum of Wagnerian opium.

In Act III, I think we are in the present. A minescape forms the setting of the baptizing of Kundry; the death of Amfortas by Parsifal; and finally, the worshipping of the new King. For practitioners of intellectual masturbation, a second viewing might be necessary to dissect all the overlapping layers. But the singers were impeccable and nonetheless convinced dramatically in Stölzl’s mindbending adaption.

III-Aztec-Klingsor.png

Vogt appears late in Act I, which really belonged to Thomas Johannes Meyer’s regally sung Amfortas and Daniela Sindram’s Kundry. But when Vogt appeared he sang with his famous lyricism. His voice melted beautifully into Runnicles’s rich texture. He moved me to tears, basking in the glow of the DOB Orchestra, in his finale song about the spear.

Daniele Sindram dosed Kundry with the perfect amount of frenzy without any overacting. In Act II in her interactions with Parsifal, she moved impressively from the motherly care to the seductive attempts as lover. A commanding presence, Sindram generated captivating chemistry with Vogt.

Andrew Harris’s old Titurel walked with shaky fragility, but he sang with with noble strength. Derek Walton's flamboyant Klingsor brought enough creepy ambiguity for his sexless character. The rest of the supporting cast sang pretty much flawlessly adding to the glorious vocal experience.

The specific religious scenery of Stölzl’s production does undercut Wagner’s already complex mythology. But with first class singers, Stölzl’s changes (to some perhaps heretical) are quickly forgiven. Most of all, the Orchestra of the DOB reflected Principal Conductor Runnicles’s mastery of Wagner’s work.

David Pinedo

Seen October 30, 2016, Deutsche Oper Berlin

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):