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The Klingsor of Tom Fox, sinister within his magic circle, does an irresistible invocation of the wretched Kundry, who only wants, like most of us, a bit more sleep [listen -- DVD 2 track 1, 3:18-4:15, Vorspiel (Act 2)]. The Flowers or bunnies are as sensuous as they should be and would doubtless have earned the applause Wagner persistently gave them at the first performances [listen -- DVD 2 track 4, 0:00-1:17, 'Komm, komm! Holder Knabe!' (Act 2)].

[watch and listen to a sequence from 'Parsifal! Weile!' (Act 2) using the player below -- needs an Apple Quicktime plugin -- high speed connection preferred].

Wagner's psychological and musical pacing of the attempted seduction is a miracle of art, and Kundry is never more dangerous than when near defeat [listen -- DVD 2 track 10, 0:00-1:31, 'Grausamer! Fühlst du im Herzen' (Act 2)].

Tom Fox as Klingsor. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Tom Fox as Klingsor. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

The fine Amfortas of Thomas Hampson gets a very raw deal in this production. His upper lip could not be less stiff, and I would have considered him unbalanced enough to be sectioned long before the end. But vocally he carries on as gamely as Wagner could have wished even when scenically well beyond the end of his tether [listen -- DVD 3 track 11, 5:27-track 12, 0:25, 'Ja, Wehe! Wehe! Weh' über mich!' (Act 3)].

Kent Nagano conducts 'Parsifal' at Baden-Baden. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Kent Nagano conducts 'Parsifal' at Baden-Baden. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

The Act 1 prelude is clearly at Baden-Baden rather than Bayreuth. In other words we inspect the orchestra, admiring its skill and sensitivity, concentrating on one instrument or another, and wondering how some players of such apparently tender years can produce not only endless melody but endless beauty. Nagano, a magisterial figure on the rostrum, shakes locks at us, though mercifully less gory than Banquo's. The explanatory film is interesting as much for its special pleading as for relaying thoughts of the cast on their roles; but, alas, no Gurnemanz.

Copyright © 18 May 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


Richard Wagner: Parsifal

OA 0915 D DVD5, DVD9 16:9 anamorphic NTSC region 0 (worldwide) (3 discs) LPCM Stereo, Digital DTS Surround NEW RELEASE 317' 2005 Opus Arte

Christopher Ventris, Parsifal; Waltraud Meier, Kundry; Matti Salminen, Gurnemanz; Thomas Hampson, Amfortas; Tom Fox, Klingsor; Bjarni Thor Kristinsson, Titurel; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Festspielchor Baden-Baden; Kent Nagano, conductor; Nikolaus Lehnhoff, stage director; Raimund Bauer, set design; Andrea Schmidt-Futterer, costumes; Denni Sayers, choreography; Thomas Grimm, TV director; Reiner E Moritz, TV producer; Ferenc van Damme, DVD producer; Hans Petri, DVD executive producer

Richard Wagner (1813-1883): Parsifal (1882, libretto by the composer) (Opera in three acts). New production from the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in co-production with ENO London, San Francisco Opera and Lyric Opera Chicago, recorded live on 4, 6 and 8 August 2004. Extra features: Cast Gallery; Illustrated synopsis; Parsifal's Progress - a film by Reiner E Moritz


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