Wagner: Parsifal

Christopher Ventris, Waltraud Meier, Matti Salminen, Thomas Hampson, Tom Fox, Bjarni Thor Kristinsson; Baden-Baden Festival Chorus, Deutsches SO, Berlin/Kent Nagano; dir. Nikolaus Lehnhoff (Baden-Baden, 2004)
Opus Arte
Catalogue Number:
OA 0915 D
BBC Music Magazine
Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal was staged by ENO in 1999. It has since travelled the world and here comes from last year’s Baden-Baden Festival. It’s a provocative but effective interpretation, in which the Knights of the Grail are struggling to hang on to life in a post-apocalyptic world (a symbolic meteorite dominates the set in Act I). It’s a grim vision, but one that works with the established plot; and Lehnhoff’s final suggestion of Parsifal leading the others on to a new life without the organised religion that has so patently failed them is inspiring in these over-zealous times. It would be hard to assemble a better cast today.   Waltraud Meier’s Kundry is riveting in her intensity and sense of a creature possessed. The same characteristics mark out Thomas Hampson’s Amfortas – for once a vividly drawn character, whose pain is there for all to see in his acting and singing. Christopher Ventris’s burly, Rambo-esque Parsifal is both lyrical and forthright, Matti Salminen’s Gurnemanz resonantly enunciated and authoritative. But Kent Nagano’s prosaic conducting negates all this marvellous work. He might make a passable Ring conductor some day, but he just doesn’t have the measure of Parsifal’s world-weary spirituality.   Tempo and timing are not everything and the music can take a variety of approaches, but he rips through the piece, taking a whole hour less than, admittedly an extreme comparison, Levine’s performance on CD (DG) and so, although a degree of desperation suits the production, robbing the music of its majesty and spaciousness. Apart from some antiquated subtitling, this is a lavish presentation, well filmed and recorded, though the generosity of a 75-minute documentary interviewing the participants is dulled by over-extended excerpts from the performance. Matthew Rye
Elgar: Enigma Variations; plus drama-documentary
previous review Article
Various: Arias and songs
next review Article
We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here