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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    SKILL AND SENSITIVITY

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The main idea of the production is symbolised by the railway line in Act 3, which emerges from a tunnel and along which Parsifal stalks clad in superb black armour. The risk, of course, is that, rather than having wandered endlessly under Kundry's curse, he might be thought to have strolled no further than from Clapham Junction or the nearest halt to Baden-Baden. At the end Kundry leads a dignified procession along the track, followed by Parsifal and an increasing number of knights, entering a tunnel which now has a light at the end of it. This represents a new world 'which has liberated itself of all rituals and ideologies' in Lehnhoff's words. So much for Wagner.

Waltraud Meier (Kundry) leads the procession along the track, at the end of Act 3. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Waltraud Meier (Kundry) leads the procession along the track, at the end of Act 3. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

While on the subject of railways and conjectural speeds, I have always considered Pierre Boulez as the TGV of Parsifal conductors. Occasionally I thought Kent Nagano too fast, but it is good to check that each act takes a little longer than the Frenchman's, and most noticeably Act 2. The singing is generally superb, with the Gurnemanz of Matti Salminen quite outstanding. His intellectual and emotional commitment are above praise, as when Waltraud Meier's many faceted Kundry is hinted at and Gurnemanz tells of the wound which will not heal [listen -- DVD 1 track 6, 1:16-2:48, 'O wunden-wundervoller heiliger Speer!' (Act 1)]. The arrival of Christopher Ventris as the full-voiced Parsifal is also impressive [listen -- DVD 1 track 8, 0:00-1:12, 'Weh! Weh!' (Act I)].

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Copyright © 18 May 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK

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