miércoles, 3 de octubre de 2018

Video review: Parsifal from the 2016 Bayreuth Festival.

After an intense month focused on Wieland and Chinese Wagner productions, I returned to present-day Bayreuth to see this Parsifal from the 2016 Festival. This production came to remplace the  Stefan Herheim's production from 2008 to 2012. And it succeed in the audience.

Uwe Eric Laufenberg sets Parsifal's action in present-day world in a very efficient way. It's situated in an unknown city in Middle East, threatened by the bombs and occupation by the Daesh, in the peak of its territorial expansion in 2016. Focused on religion, the production treats the how fundamentalism endangers society and people persecuted for this reason. The production is faithful to many indications of the text, from a modern perspective.

During the prelude, projections of solar system and outer space are seen. When the curtain rises, the hall of an almost ruined small temple in a likely Early Christian architecture style, with a dome . A group of refugees or helpless men are sleeping. One of them awakes with the first light of sunrise, and then the Grail Knights (dressed in classic uniforms) assist those men before leaving the hall. At the bottom of the scene there is a big baptismal font, where Amfortas takes the bath. Kundry appears dressed like a muslim conservative woman, with a black hijab. The entrance of Parsifal is announced by the death of a child, maybe by a bullet of any Western regiment. Western soldiers are seen on stage sometimes. The Grail Scene takes place on the same hall, now with the font in the middle of the scene. Amfortas is appearing as Jesus Christ in the cross, and when he is asked by his severe father to discover the Grail, the knights hurt him to take his blood while Titurel is actually discovering it. One of the rare occasions to see Titurel on stage.

Act 2 takes in the same hall, now decorated in arabic coloured tiles. Amfortas is kidnapped by Klingsor. The Flower Maidens are dressed in black burqas (or actually chadors?) but after encountering Parsifal  they quit their ones to show their sugerent  bikini-like bellydance clothes. Kundry appears with a suggestive black gown and when she kisses Parsifal Amfortas is seen and remplaces him with her, while the tormented Parsifal sings his monologue in anxiety. Act 3 shows the Hall now taken by vegetation and a jungle-like garden is seen at the bottom. Kundry and Gurnemanz are now aging, and after Parsifal is proclamed king, the Flower Maidens appear on stage dressed like for summer but more conservative and in a cherful mood, las if they were now redeemed. In the bottom, the "tears of repented sinners" are raining in the garden. The final scene shows an aging Amfortas refusing to discover the Grail and surrounded by the knights and men from all religions. When Parsifal enters and restores the order, Titurel's coffin is opened and all men are throwing relics to it. The temple dissappears and all men join to be in the new grace of God, a new era of peace and harmony for all people of any religion, as the stage is empty.

Musically, it was an accomplished performance. Hartmut Haenchen makes his debut with rapid tempi, but despite all an enjoyable and personal style. Act 3 was simply memorable.

Klaus Florian Vogt is a well sung and well acted Parsifal. He proves to convey the drama and take it to his singing. Elena Pankratova is a revelation, since she has an attractive voice and a perfect technique, with proper high and low notes. Her acting is good, but still a bit cold compared to amazing singer-actresses like Anja Kampe or Waltraud Meier. After Meier's retiring of the character, should we say that we have in Pankratova a new queen in Kundry's throne?

Georg Zeppenfeld is an accomplished Gurnemanz, with a beautiful bass voice. Ryan McKinny is a well acted than sung Amfortas, better in first act than third. Gerd Grochowski's Klingsor is better acted than sung, but not bad. Karl-Heinz Lehner is a Titurel with good singing, but with an even better acting. His Titurel is severe and non-comprehensive to his ailing son, he is only interested on discovering the Grail.

The performance was well received by the picky Bayreuth audience, with few boos to Laufenberg's team. This production shows how Bayreuth could and should treat actuality (the problem of religious fanatism) and not being ridiculous in attempting it.

My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non English native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
Most of the photographs are from the internet and belong to its authors. My use of them is only cultural.
Any reproduction of my text requires my permission. 

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