Written November 30, 2014
Ah ha! I finally "get" François Girard's final interpretive thrust for this rendition :
Parsifal's words (paraphrase): "The Holy Blood on the spear longs to join the Holy Blood in the Grail cup.
The action: Parsifal inserts the spear tip into the Grail cup, upheld by Kundry, who, on a musical accent (also reflected in a spear movement by Parsifal), will suddenly begin her expiration ritual, leading to a gentle death, while meanwhile, the shadowy ensemble of women who have been ever-pesent but separate from the men, move as individuals to members of the opposite sex, and they all join hands as couples.
My sudden grasp of Girard's interpretation: My goodness! We've got some good ol' Dan Brown going here (Da Vinci Code). The phallic spear and the vaginal cup. All that alternative Gospel of Thomas stuff (Christ married and parental, etc.) and a union of opposites into a perfectly balanced whole (Yin & Yang), represented through the sexual symbolism of the objects at hand.
Written May 03, 2016
Magnificent singing, orchestral playing, and conducting. And of course the music is sublime. But the staging, much of it, is absurd. Wagner audibly groaning in his grave. When directors (François Girard, in this instance) radically "interpret" a work to make an individual, narcissistic statement, blithely disregarding and contradicting some of the basic features envisioned by its creator, things can go amiss, as they do here in the third act. Schade.... But of course seeing it live in HD is better than actually being at the Met itself.
Written February 01, 2015
Long opera, but not your typical German opera. The singing is phenomenal and was the orchestra. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Written November 27, 2015
The Met's Parsifal tries unsuccessfully to take the myth into a modern or post-modern world. Unfortunately, to do that you have to also change the very clear Christian wording in the libretto. Moreover, the new sets are just plain awful--dark, depressing--the VERY antithesis of the uplifting, spiritual message that the myth portrays. How about a soaring cathedral-like (or mosque-like or synagogue-like) structure with luminous windows in Act I rather than a drab, dark field with men in white shirts. How about white robes? The blood bath sert in Hell in Act II is equally unimpressive and sounds the wrong note. How about a modern corporate office with its temptations? The dissonance these false sets with archaic language create makes for an uncomfortable viewing experiencing despite the vocal quality of the cast. I left after the second act!!
Written February 15, 2016
Let's face it. By the time he composed and wrote the lyrics for "Parsifal," Richard Wagner was full of himself and way over-the-top in his love for pagan mysticism, ambiguity, and the horn section of major orchestras. The music he composed for his final opera is outstanding. The singers in this Met production were great. The direction, by the man who gave us the fine film "32 Short Films Abour Glenn Gould," was excellent, if a bit too much like Harry Potter Meets Darth Vader at times. The orchestra was the best. The videography of this HD perfiormance was very, very good -- amazing close ups. The sound reproduction, while not quite high fidelity, was pretty good; at least the volume level was appropriate for a change.
But the story, if that's what we call it here, is the pits. What are we to make of Wagner's melange of Catholicism, sexism (women replace Jews as foils), relic veneration, and downright stupidity in plot creation?
Go for the music. Ignore the rest.