Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner

Magazine article Gramophone

Wagner

Article excerpt

Wagner [DVD] [BR]  Parsifal Simon O'Neill ten                       Parsifal Rene Pape bass                         Gurnemanz Gerald Finley bar                       Amfortas Angela Denoke sop        Kundry/Voice from Above Willard W White bass-bar                Klingsor Robert Lloyd bass                        Titurel 

Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden / Antonio Pappano

Stage director Stephen Langridge

Video director Jonathan Haswell

Opus Arte [F] [2] [DVD] OA1158D; [F] [2] [BR] OABD7159D (3h 30' + 25' * NTSC * 16:9 * DTS-HD MA5.1, DTS5.1 & LPCM stereo * 0 * S/s)

Recorded live, December 5, 11 & 18, 2013

Extra features: Interviews with Antonio Pappano and Simon O'Neill

'Who is the grail?' Parsifal's apparently naive question receives an ingeniously literal answer at the climax of a Communion scene that does not demystify the action of the opera or its history but places it in the determinedly realistic context of a secretive, powerful brotherhood whose motives are unclear but whose presented behaviour is sinister enough to taint the sacred symbols they wield. The hygienic isolation of Amfortas and the purposeful movement of his black-clad knights cast shadows of a contemporary plot such as the Bourne trilogy's Operation Treadstone made alarmingly real by Edward Snowden.

Appropriately enough for a work that's always reaching out towards the divine, the staging's moments of revelation are achieved with light, leaving an effective space for the main actors to make their own drama. Rene Pape's movement well conveys the Gurnemanz of Act 3 left bewildered and alone, even if his singing never lets slip the mask of confident oratory. Parsifal may be the most diatonically secure opera of Wagner's maturity but it's also his most carefully fragmented, whereas Antonio Pappano supports his singers with a pliant, lyrical flow at generally broad tempi: whether the expression is heavy (for the knights) or exposed (for Kundry), the strings bring a voluptuous bloom to Wagner's plangent harmonies. …

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