Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner: Parsifal

Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner: Parsifal

Article excerpt


Wagner [DVD][Br]
Johan Botha ten                                               Parsifal
Stephen Milling bass                                         Gurnemanz
Wolfgang Koch bass-bar                               Amfortas/Klingsor
Michaela Schuster mez                                           Kundry
Milcho Borovinov bass                                          Titurel
Rachel Frenkel mez                                    Voice from Above
Thomas Ebenstein ten Derek Welton bass-bar               Grail Knights
Eva Liebau, Bele Kumberger, Chiara Skerath sops
Theresa Holzhauser mez                                   Flowermaidens
Annika Sophie Ritlewski sop Carolin Neukamm mez  Flowermaidens/Squires
Mauro Peter, Attilio Glaser tens                               Squires

Dresden State Opera Chorus; Staatskapelle Dresden / Christian Thielemann

Stage director Michael Schulz

Video director Brian Large

DG [M][2][DVD] 073 4939GH2; [F][Br] 073 5036GH (4h 1 * NTSC * 16:9 * 1080i * DTS-HD MA5.0, DTS5.0 & LPCM stereo * 0 * s)

Recorded live at the Salzburg Easter Festival 2013


Dresden's Parsifal on screen from Salzburg's Easter Festival


When this production inaugurated Dresden's takeover of the Berlin Philharmonic's Salzburg Easter Festival, the critical reaction gave thumbs up to conductor, orchestra and singers. A decade ago, with a senior generation of singers including Placido Domingo and Waltraud Meier, Thielemann recorded a five Parsifal in Vienna, making fullest use of extreme tempo contrasts and of Wagner's pauses in the Amfortas monologues and around Kundry's Act 2 '... und lachte'. That journey is continued here, together with a general darkening and thickening of textures and a bass sonority of which Furtwangler would have been proud.

The singing cast are very fine and, like his players, seem to have studied with their conductor in Goodall-like detail. Botha certainly provides fine singing in the title-role. But this is a stage production and, Pavarotti-like, he barely reacts, let alone acts. The production has found ingenious ways of working around him but to have the central character reduced to a costumed, singing Evangelist is difficult, to say the least--especially because the musical interpretation is so closely tied in with the multi-layered staging of Gelsenkirchen Intendant Michael Schulz, designer/sculptor Alexander Polzin and choreographer/dancer Annett Gohre. …

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