Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wagner - Parsifal|
Actors: Siegfried Jerusalem, Bernd Weikl, Eva Randova, Hans Sotin, Leif Roar
Director: Horst Stein
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
WAGNER:PARSIFAL - DVD Movie
Good but not good enough
Bob Epstein | Minneapolis | 09/27/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While this "Parsifal" is traditional, which is to the good, it is marred by some stiff acting and questionable production touches by Wolfgang Wagner. The singing is very fine but Levine's with the Met (the only other traditional "Parsifal" on DVD) is just as good, and Otto Schenk's production is far better. The Met scores on nearly every point in terms of scenery, staging and acting. There is a magic in New York that is not there in Bayreuth, which has a more plain, homespun quality, attractive in its own way (similar in that regard to Wolfgang Wagner's "Bayreuth "Meistersinger.").
Wolfgang Wagner's sense of stage acting comes basically from the stand and deliver school, with not a great deal of compelling interaction between characters to bring the drama to life. The drama here is not exactly gripping; static is more like it. The Met production is on a different level, and Schenk's handling of characters is far more involving, inviting and compelling. The Met's "Parsifal" has seemingly real people facing important issues.
On its own, the Bayreuth forest that opens acts 1 and 3 is fine, but next to the Met's grand and realistic outdoors, feels a bit cramped and artificial after a while. Bayreuth's second scene of both acts (the hall of the castle of the grail), a la his brother Wieland's 1951-75 production, is abstract yet compelling, too, in its own way. But the Met has a more spiritual setting and a more deeply affecting result.
Act 2 starts out in Bayreuth with Klingsor's castle looking like a cheap science fiction B-movie scene with cheesy-looking smoke, abstract curved pillars on the side and Klingsor dominating from above like a tacky evil superhero. Unconvincing. Laughable even. Sad when Leif Roar is a most compelling Klingsor, full of menace and in vibrant voice. The Met's scenery and staging are more believable, richer in imagery and impression, but Franz Mazura as good as he is, can't compare vocally to Roar, and looks a bit old.
Vocally, both casts are very fine. Each Gurnemanze, the vocal center of the opera, offers rich vocal portrayals, although Wolfgang Wagner has Hans Sotin act rather too condescendingly toward Parsifal in Act 1, losing some of our sympathy. The Met's Kurt Moll is rather more the wise-old grandfatherly type in the spirit of the well-meaning Gurnemanz.
Siegfried Jerusalem is both Parsifals, and his extra 12 years of stage experience shows more strongly at the Met. The voice may be slightly fresher at Bayreuth and his youthful looks a plus, but his Met Parsifal is deeper, more natural and more eloquent.
Bernd Weikl also graces both productions as an outstanding Amfortas. His Wieland Wagner-enforced less-is-more movement at Bayreuth is not a hindrance in this spiritually and physically wracked character, and in some ways is a plus.
Waltraud Meier's Kundry is one of the Met's highlights. She is more fetching and physically expressive than Bayreuth's Eva Randova, well as she sings. Meier brings a sensuality and stronger vocalizing to Kundry that is most compelling.
The conductor comparison surprised me, as I have not been a fan of Levine's Wagner, finding his "Ring" protracted and heavy handed. But "Parsifal" is a different animal in the Wagner canon; my two favorite recordings both come from that master of grand, Knappertsbusch (Bayreuth, 1951 and 1962). Levine, while not quite on his level, brings off a spirituality and conversely, more animation when called for, that the straightforward Stein, who is a good but not overly compelling (similar to what I felt about his Bayreuth "Meistersinger").
Levine may unduly stretch tempos now and then, but to my taste, his is a more involved and felt journey than Stein's. All the fuss Stein has brought out in these posts I don't understand. He offers a solid, mainstream reading which has the benefit of flow but misses some of Levine's passion and depth.
Overall, the drama is more real, believable and interactive in New York than Bayreuth. The sets and staging are more natural and compelling, too. Overall this Bayreuth production is good but not quite good enough, with excellent singing helping compensate for some lesser production and acting values."
D. Vierheller | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's not hard to imagine more subtle sets and costumes. Yet these, despite their obviousness, are never less than effective. The performance is all one could wish. I've never arrived at a convincing interpretation of this mysterious work. It's the most magical and most beautiful of fantasy operas, whose enduring mystery is central to its allure. It seems to me the perfection of Wagner's method. Every motif is memorable. The interweaving of motifs creates a glowing sound fabric that responds to every nuance of the libretto. The score exhibits the most marked contrasts between dark and light, chromatic and diatonic, serene and anguished.
The only unknown in the cast is Leif Roar, and he proves an excellent Klingsor. Everyone performs with convincing gravity. This is an enthralling account of Wagner's masterpiece."
Buy This One, You Won't Regret It!
Andrew DiGelsomina | Burlington, Vermont | 07/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Okay, so there are many folks for whom the Kubelik and/or Knappertsbusch CD recordings are considered "superior". These arguments are not without merit. I don't have the Kubelik, but both Knappertbusch recordings (and to a slightly lesser degree, the Karajan box) are tremendous recordings, with singing that can often chill the marrow.
But if you want either a first (or only) FILMED DVD performance of Parsifal, GET this one! This particular dvd has made me rank Parsifal as perhaps the greatest opera in Richard Wagner's repetoire, and that includes even the immense Ring.
Siegfried Jerusalem both looks and sounds perfectly young in this role, perhaps his best performance ever. I must also give many thanks to Hans Sotin for his portrayal of Gurnemanz, I often spin the 1st act just because Sotin is such a likable character. Sotin plays the part with a type of poise that makes him very easy to respect.
Randova is a without question an above average Kundry, I found her a bit shrieky in the second act, but I wonder if that just might be exactly how Wagner intended the angst to be portrayed.
Weikl is also quite good, perhaps better overall than in his Bayreuth Meistersinger dvd. His acting doesn't seem as overwrought and forced as many Amfortas portrayals have been in the past.
The sound on this is superb, and the picture is above average.
Overall, for anyone looking for a performance based on tradition, but not afraid to take a few chances from a directorial/staging persepctive, do NOT hesitiate to grab this one. You will find it more rewarding each successive time you watch it.
Beautifully sung Parsifal
David D. Dollinger | Pasadena, CA | 03/24/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For years I have resisted the appeal of Parsifal, finding the music somewhat arid and unmelodic. This is not to say that Wagner is not a favorite composer of mine. I adore Tristan and Meistersinger and the Ring, and LOhengrin. I decided that it was time to at least make an attempt to plum the riches (at least many claimed such) of the score when a friend of mine gave me the Lenhoff production. I watched it act by act, devoting atleast two viewings each. Elements of the production were confusing, but the acting was superb, notably Hampton and Meier. The latter was mesmerising in the second act. singing with great beauty and verbal distiction. What Lenhoff didn't do caused me to purchase the Bayreuth edition with Jersalem, Sotin and Weikl.
I suppose one would have to describe this production as traditional--certainly next to the Lenhoff. Why there is no transformation scene in the Lenhoff is not really addressed in his long and somewhat pedantic documentary that Opus Arte provides. Bayreuth of course is more conventional and does make the appropriate scene changes so that dramatically it does make more sense. What the DGG edition does have is great singing. from Jerusalem, Sotin and Weikl. The Kundry of Eva Randova, judged by most standards is very, very, good, but faced with the competition--Meier--her ability to convey Kundry's pain and conflict and barely suggested. Perhaps on repeated viewings I will change my mind.
Overall this is a Parsifal that can be recommended simply for great singing in an age when Wagner singers are becomming rarer and rarer."