[Met Performance] CID:257010
Parsifal {228} Metropolitan Opera House: 04/2/1979.

(Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
April 2, 1979


PARSIFAL {228}
Wagner-Wagner

Parsifal................Jon Vickers
Kundry..................Christa Ludwig
Amfortas................Bernd Weikl
Gurnemanz...............Martti Talvela
Klingsor................Vern Shinall
Titurel.................Paul Plishka
Voice...................Isola Jones
First Esquire...........Elizabeth Volkman
Second Esquire..........Ariel Bybee
Third Esquire...........Charles Anthony
Fourth Esquire..........John Carpenter
First Knight............Dana Talley
Second Knight...........Philip Booth
Flower Maidens: Betsy Norden, Louise Wohlafka, Elizabeth Volkman,
Alma Jean Smith, Loretta Di Franco, Isola Jones

Conductor...............James Levine

Director................Nathaniel Merrill
Designer................Robert O'Hearn
Choreographer...........Milenko Banovitch

Parsifal received four performances this season.

Review of Speight Jenkins in the New York Post

Met's "Parsifal" a knight to remember

"Parsifal," Wagner' s most metaphysical work, became a transcendent experience last night at the Metropolitan Opera.

Jon Vickers' enactment of the title role fulfilled the expectation of many years and, no less memorably, Christa Ludwig returned to the company after a five-year absence, as Kundry. Even so, the overall level of this first Met performance of the work since 1974 was more important. Wagner's version of the myth describing the maturing of a man, from innocent boy to leader of the knights of the Holy Grail, rarely receives the kind of total performance everyone gave.

Though James Levine will grow even deeper into this complex score, last night's performance was one of his finest at the Metropolitan. Not at all dawdling - the long narrative of Gurnemanz in Act I flew by - his interpretation took time when necessary and strove consistently to bring out the poetic lyricism and sensuousness of the score.

If the orchestra playing was at the highest level, so too was the chorus. It was their singing and the extraordinary Flower Maidens that made this a Parsifal in which the stars could shine. And shine they did. Vickers' heroic and yet exquisitely refined singing in the long duet in Act II created a standard new to my experience, and though he sang the first part of Act III a shade too quietly, his concluding "Nur eine Waffe taugt" sounded as fresh and heroic as his first notes. Additionally, he really acted the role. He was a youth until Kundry's kiss, and a man afterwards, his every word delivered meaningfully.

Miss Ludwig's volume has diminished, but her production has never been easier: the low notes rich and the high notes clear and true. Her looks ever seductive, she found the essence of every phrase. As the wounded king, Amfortas, Bernd Weikl at first sounded too rough but in his final scene rose to his full vocal potential. Overall, his Amfortas raged at his pain without whining.

The teacher of Parsifal, Gurnemanz, has more to sing than anyone else and can be a dreary bore. Martti Talvela was never that, but he needed more line and in the first act more accurate intonation. Dramatically the role is his; vocally, he still has to get it smoothly into his voice. Though Titurel is never seen, Paul Plishka made his presence eloquent, and Vern Shinall had just the right roughness of voice for Klingsor.

Robert O'Hearn's sets have never looked so attractive, while Nathaniel Merrill's staging seemed equally fresh.



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