Much booing in Munich for Jonas Kaufmann’s new Parsifal

The new production of Parsifal at the Munich Festival was greeted last night with vociferous booing.


photo: Wilfried Hösl

The hostility was targeted at Georg Baselitz’s stage design and at the director, Pierre Audi.

Kaufmann in the title role, with  Christian Gerhaher as Amfortas and Nina Stemme as Kundry, were loudly acclaimed, as was the conductor, Kirill Petrenko.

 

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    • One sees the yellow tape, hears the sirens and the hasty footsteps of the crowds running from the scene. Darkness descends…. (there was apparently much blackness in the production, dark black, somewhat less dark black, and other varieties of black to make sure the audience got the message that the energy bill in these times has to be reduced.)

          • I can believe it: an artistic career can be ephemeral, no matter how successful. Examples abound.

            Jonas Kaufmann has spoken up more than most. Here is what he had to say to the NYT in 2012 after a Faust premiere:

            “What did he think of the new Met production of “Faust” in which he had just sung? No comment.”

            “I am too much of a diplomat,” he said. “But I will generalize this much. Too many directors arrive at the opera house these days knowing little or nothing about music. Most come from the spoken theater, focus only on the text and don’t understand how to give the music its space. It may seem obvious to you and me, but a brilliant theater director does not automatically translate into a brilliant opera director. If I am a crack racecar driver, that doesn’t qualify me to be an ace pilot as well.

            “I sometimes feel that directors devise all these elaborate concepts because they don’t trust the power of the music and are terrified of boring the audience. Opera is a truly magical art, but the magic originates primarily in the music that we singers work so hard to communicate.”

            https://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/arts/music/jonas-kaufmann-as-siegmund-in-die-walkure.html

      • What a pity that Kaufman and other top singers don’t use their clout and refuse to sing in these stupid productions.

        • The music remains most important and the production should further enhance it and not become a distraction. Some of these ‘experimental’ bizarre productions do not work and not only ‘insults’ the artists but also spoils the evening for the audience.

  • How every German. Personally, I think people who pay large sums to see Parsifal want to suffer and enjoy pain.

    • Maybe those who want to see it, but those who come to hear it want to rejoice and to be enlightened . That music of a genius never gets old.

  • Will Regietheater just go on, for ever? In spite of its nonsensical results, its violations of repertoire works, its patronizing modernism, its naive and entirely reactionary, archaic wish to provoke scandal so that directors can congratulate themselves with a ‘groundbreaking production’?

    Directors need an ‘underdeveloped, unsophisticated, stupid bourgeois audience’ to offend, and they think that protests confirm their a priori assessments. So, they confuse entirely normal objections by entirely normal and sophisticated audiences with proofs that they have brought the art form further into the paradise of the future. Such directors are the most reactionary, outdated, conservative, unimaginative people imaginable, and how ridiculous that they consider themselves the opposite.

    • “Will Regietheater just go on, for ever?”

      No, but I think it will have to get worse before it gets better.

      It’s not shocking, it’s just plain pathetic.

    • Blah blah blah. Regietheater is here to stay for the simple reason that it is synonymous with contemporary theater. It will produce successful and failed, innovative and derivative productions. It will encompass the highly stylized productions of Audi, the blasphemous ones of BIeito and everything in between. It will evolve, it may become something completely different, because that’s how art works.

      And the endlessly repetitive, boring complaints from reactionaries near the side of the road will have exactly no influence. Nothing. Zero.

      Like all the endlessly repetitive, boring complaints of reactionaries since the late 19th century have had exactly no influence. Nothing. Zero.

      • With all due respect, but this is one of the most stupid, braindead comments ever posted on SD. It is the typical pavlov reaction which thinks that ‘new’ must be ‘better’ because it is ‘new’, instead of something is new because it is better.

        • Couldn’t agree more. Still, there is nothing wrong with trying, in an imaginative way, to give works for the stage writing long ago a new kind of relevance. These are the days of gay marriage, transgenders, college shootings and Little Rocket Men and if there is a sensible way of working references to these into often told old stories of dwarves, giants and gods, hen why not? Klingsor seems a good character to experiment with. But all this with the proviso that the instructions of the composer/librettist are followed to the letter. If Wagner, in Walkure, gives Hunding the line: Ruest uns Maenner das Mahl! (oppressive wife-abuser that he is) I expect the long-suffering Sieglinde to do something (a gesture, an action, anything short of trotting out a three course dinner for two) to indicate that she is about to obey. In Audi’s staging for the DNO Sieglinde completely ignores Hunding’s order. Audi offers no explanation for this, there is no other action to take its place. No Mahl is ruested, the table remains empty and the men don’t eat. This may seem trivial to someone who has watched Walkures all his life, from Tietjen to Chereau, but to anyone else this makes no sense at all. It’s playing fast and loose with the expressed wishes of a great creative artist. Shame!

        • Low resolution ideological thinking; for the arts the same as politics. Reduce everything to one ideological position and it becomes easier to, er, swallow. Trouble is, the more intelligent ones who are capable of much more complex thought and nuanced ideas are left high and dry by this dead hand of postmodernism. And that sophistication to which I refer also means being perfectly capable of taking new meaning from performances of well-directed historic works which, like Shakespeare, will always have timeless appeal.

          • Absolutely – why do these people aspire to Boos rather than applause? A complete mystery to me!

      • That is how art works…..hmmmm. Is it not people who decide how art works? Art isn’t some autonomous force of nature that does what it likes, whether we like it or not. Men (and women) make art and what art they make is the result of conscious choices and decisions. In theatre, the regisseurs of old saw it as their task to ensure that the wishes of the creator of the work were done full justice. Absolute faithfulness to them was the norm, but there was always room for improvisation or even innovation, so long as the composer’s instructions (and dramatic logic) got total respect. To a man (or woman) the performing artists (from set designer, via regisseur to singers and musicians) were the servents of the one without whom they wouldn’t have a job, the Creator of the Work.
        Today’s Regietheater with all its bizarre or even ludicrous, deviations from the stage action as envisaged by the composer, is not an inevitable next step for an art form in free organic development. It is, rather, a bunch of smug charlatans sticking up two fingers to public and composer/librettist alike. If I want Don Giovanni to shoot the Commendatore with a pistol, they say, then that is what you’ll get; regardless of the fact that the opera is set in a time when self respecting gentlemen routinely armed themselves with swords and (worse!) ignoring the fact that Mozart, in the music for this scene, specifically wrote a musical representation of swords clashing together as in a duel..I could list dozens of similar anomalies, but there isn’t time.And it’s not just what the directors want the performers to DO; there’s also the small matter of verisimilitude. Can you believe what you see? A very fine performance of Strauss’ Salome has, in the title role, a wonderful singer in Angela Denoke. Close your eyes and you are in heaven. Open them again and you certainly aren’t in Biblical Palestine. Miss Denoke (and I hope she doesn’t mind this from a genuine admirer) is, in terms of looks, as far from a sultry, semitic, sex-obsessed teenager as you can get. Slim, rather than voluptuous, blond hair short-cropped rather than raven-haired flowing locks, she looks like a Nordic cross country skier whose plane, on its way to the winter Olympics, was unexpectedly diverted to an airstrip in Judea. Examples of this are, as in the case of saying ‘up yours’ to the libretto and the stage instructions, legion. I have been an opera lover all my life and seen and heard just about everything. But today’s poor opera goers (especially those who can afford to go onely a few times a year, deserve something they can sinke their emotional and intellectual teeth into, rather than a moving Rohrschach test.
        yours,
        A Reactionary

        • A very modern, commonsense 21C comment. It is the Regietheateraddicts who are the reactionaries, trying to freeze a postwar ideological moment for all eternity. Indeed if one tries to be loyal to the work, there is very much room for interpretation, and sometimes one sees such productions. One can even change the time a little bit as was done years ago with the Nozze at the ROH without damaging the plot:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-NzmMLBkCc part 1

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szgVc83qks0 part 2

        • Bravo. Precisely because there IS something worth REACTING against; the rubbishing of great works with schlock and kitsch from under-whelming, narcissistic directors who think their audiences are as shallow as they are. But in the ‘everything has the same value as everything else world’ this rubbish will fly (for some).

        • Yepp, you’re so right! And I especially loathe this “we want to get our audience thinking” attitude. It shows the entire arrogance and ignorance of these directors. For them the public is the “great unwashed and uneducated” who can’t follow the director’s high flying wisedom and intellectuality. But at least the director got him “thinking” – instead of just hanging around in the theatre, entertaining himself and probably – igittigitt – even enjoying the opera!
          The audience enjoying the experience is probably the worst thing what can happen to a modern director. It shows he’s missed to “shock” them through breaking a few taboos; it shows he hasn’t made his stage and singers as ugly as possible.
          However, these clique from directors, principals and unfortunately critiques kind of “rules” the theatres – and we, the dull audience one has to tell that they have to think now, have only one function: We have to pay for the experiments.

          • I think you’ll find they’re called “deplorables”. As Jordan Peterson says (a font of wisdom) if everybody disagrees with YOU, THEY’RE NOT THE PROBLEM.

        • “But today’s poor opera goers (especially those who can afford to go onely a few times a year, deserve something they can sinke their emotional and intellectual teeth into”

          One of many excellent points. Not everybody can afford to simply write off the cost of a highly disagreeable evening, time and time again.

          • I think that it is a type of theft to put on a production that people do not like as they have travelled far & wide & at great expense to hear the world’s best singers & music.

    • This is correct. This “German” disease is still raging and the presentation of opera by these theatrical hooligans (Fura dels Baus, Bieito, Herheim, Sellars – and this one in Munich) presents, in this instance, some kind of record since to upset a German audience in the field of regietheater must be some kind of achievement ? This must have really stretched their patience.

      We run hundreds of people up the motorway from Jávea/Denia to the excellent Valencia Opera and after the unbelievably trashy “Samson & Al Qaeda” (by Baus) we will not be attending anything by these so-called directors and will wait until the opera house has a success which the management decide to re-stage in a later season and when it can be considered safe to venture forth…. ! The appalling Bayreuth Parsifal and Lohengrin (c. 2011) was the end of 45 years at that theatre. These productions neither instruct nor entertain – they simply insult educated audiences.

    • I totally agree John – there is something very dated & Teutonic about this production. Some thing Freudian there – perhaps to do with the Black Forest? I’m sure at times it was difficult for the cast not to collapse in hysterical laughter. Much of it made no sense at all & if it hadn’t been for the stellar cast the house would have been empty & the production would have been a complete flop. It is a mystery to to me why these outdated productions, now so boring, are still allowed to be put on.

  • It is notable that the German houses remain fully active during the summer months, often premiering some of their most important productions. Stuttgart is currently performing Britten’s Death in Venice and a children’s opera. In July it will premiere a new opera by Toshio Hosokaw that it commissioned. The house’s orchestra will also offer a concert of Bruckner and a violin concerto by the contemporary composer Georg Frederick Haas. In June it performed a double bill of Dallapiccola and Rhim, two very modernist composers US houses could never perform.

    Meanwhile, the Met only has a seven month season and shuts down in May. Chicago and San Francisco barely have six month seasons. Major cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Phoenix, Houston, Seattle, Las Angeles, etc, usually have the equivalent of about 6 week seasons or less. This lack of support for the performing arts, and especially their paucity in regional cities, remains a taboo topic that is seldom even discussed. Munich is lucky to have a Parsifal production to boo.

      • August is vacation month across most of Europe, so the houses are often closed during that month. Very different from the Met which is closed for 5 months from May to October.

  • No more than any other 1st night of a Wagner opera at any number of german houses. Mind you, the production does look somewhat old fashioned and continues Munich’s obsession with Black, White and Grey as the prevailing colour for most of their bühnenbild. The current 21st century obsession with the 1930’s German Expressionist film aesthetic is now way past it’s shock potential.

    • Baselitz likes to do things differently from other artists, and definitely different from paintings we can see in the great collections: since they are marvellously painted, he tries to paint as ugly as possible, to express the nature of the times. Sometimes he has difficulties deciding what is up and what is down. (My fly on the wall informs me that B paints his upside-down canvasses hanging from the ceiling of his studio, which is less difficult than painting things upside-down while standing on his feet. I can understand that.)

      I assume he has tried to get the singers on stage hanging upside down from the rafters but did not get his way because of the vocal difficulties this would create.

      http://innerspaceinteriordesign.com/art/2015-venice-art-biennale-georg-baselitz/

      • I was surprised he let them sing at all as he seemed to think that they were superfluous. But the singers triumphed in spite of Baselitz & Audi – which is quite wonderful!

  • What a misleading headline….implying that it is Kaufmann’s production which are booed while he was acclaimed but the producer and designer were booed!!

  • Headline: MUCH BOOING IN MUNICH FOR JONAS KAUFMANN‘S NEW PARSIFAL
    In small print below the admission that the booing was directed at Pierre Audi and Georg Baselitz for their staging, while Kaufmann, Gerhaher, Stemme and Kiril Petrenko were „loudly acclaimed“.
    No further comment necessary.

    • This Mr. NL should quickly change the headline, before international lawyers close his blog!
      Booing was ONLY for regie, all singers were applauded very much!

    • A friend of us was there and said Kaufmann wasn’t something to write home about. His voice would have sounded strained all the time, rather “rough” in the highs and with a lot of hot air in the depth. But I’m sure Frau Riegler knows better and will tell us now that no one was ever as wonderful as Kaufmann and no one will ever be

      • Everybody would feel rather restrained with such idiotic staging, and with such ‘flowermaidens’ any normal man would get a rough throat.

        • The Flower Girls – how very disrespectful to women, ugly & demeaning & showed Baselitz & Audi obviously have a problem with women. Flower men would have been much better.

      • Stemme and Kaufmann were in fine voice. Several fresh, thrilling highs from her. Koch was outstanding, Gerhaher emotive if somewhat overparted. The snag was boring Pape, in what for me is the lead role. Chorus and orchestra excellent. KP’s way with the score, not yet quite majestic enough, will shift I think, but there won’t be much he can do with Act III Scene I given the Gurnemanz, who is already cast for next season’s revival.

        • My impression is that KP takes the music on the fluent and light side, which is a perfectly legitimate approach, the floating quality of the music remains intact but the stagnating boredom of long stretches pomposity are avoided.

        • I didn’t see the Munich Parsifal (so what am I doing here, anyway?) but I can concur with you re Rene Pape. He seems to have his own business called ‘Have Gurnemanz, Will Travel’.’ He turns up to rouse Waldhuter everywhere from their slumbers. To be fair, he is blessed with a steady, sonorous voice (on most days) but in terms of acting the part he frequently comes second to a block of granite. Has anyone ever seen him walk? That said, on CD a cast including Kaufmann, Stemme and Pape would inspire a modicum of confidence. It’s just that the word Regietheater has me reaching for my sword or (if I were Don Giovanni) for my Smith & Wesson.

      • You are totally right.
        Gerhaher-Amfortas was a nightmare, uneven sound, false tones and horribly overacting,
        Pape as usual fine, but more static as ever (no wonder in that staging).
        Stemme fine Kundry, but not extraordinary.
        Koch amazing Klingsor in a really ridiculous costume.
        Yes, Kaufmann was great, soft singing in some parts, heavy explosions if necessary. Unfortunately he has less chances to act…..
        Chorus excellent.
        Petrenko shone above all; so intelligent conducting.

      • You’re judging by hearsay?! Perhaps your “star-baritone” with pseudonym you liked to relate to on facebook? Not able to find the transmit by Bayern Kassik?

    • Well…. linguistically one could say that it was a long-awaited first performance of Kaufmann in Parsifal so in a way it was HIS Parsifal, in the way a young virgin looks forward to HER first prom ball, or a young conductor to HIS first Eroica. The heading does not violate the subject.

  • Pierre Audi’s at it again, then? He loves himself too much. Arrogance is no substitute for excellence Bad productions -and he’s done plenty- do the singers no favours at all.

  • I was there.

    The production was a visually very powerful and Audi had directed with restraint and sensitivity. The booing was routine – the sort of idiocy you get at every first night nowadays.

    In every musical respect, the performance was shattering – one of the greatest operatic experiences of my life, with a cast and conductor that could not bettered today.

      • Regietheater productions often find favour with critics, partly because critics are (usually) very knowledgeable about the opera they are reviewing, and so are well placed to pick up clever references in a production which pass the rest of us by, and partly because they see so many productions of repertoire operas that they are pleased not to be seeing similar productions over and over again. And a production which is “controversial” or “daring” gives them more to write about.

        But pity the ordinary opera-goer, who may only see a given opera once in several years, in trying to make sense of a production which bears little or no resemblance to what the composer and librettist intended, let alone the first-timer, for whom following the plot can be demanding even in a “straight” production.

        • That’s very much how I feel about the ROH’s Ring Cycle, which I have seen once before (plus a couple of the individual operas on other occasions) and have tickets to see later this year. The production is dreadful. I have no idea what it’s all supposed to mean. The Tarnhelm, for example, is a metal cube that goes right over the singer’s head. In one of the operas much of the action took place amid the wreckage of a plane crash. Walhall seemed to have been imagined as a very expensive but utterly tasteless hotel lobby. It isn’t even really Regietheater; it’s more like setting the Ring Cycle in a series of more or less randomly selected locations that bear little or no relation to the plot. And it’s also all very ugly.

          The unfortunate fact is that I do not have the time or the freedom to travel all over the world seeking out better productions of the Ring Cycle. If I want to see a fully staged Ring Cycle my only option is to see the one in London, no matter how bad it is. I suppose that’s partly how they get away with it: people will come because they want to see a Ring Cycle, no matter how appalling the production. What I’d really like would be to see a Ring Cycle that actually looks like what’s going on in the plot.

          • I saw all of the ROH Ring as separate operas when they were building up the cycle some years ago. After that, much as I love the Ring, I decided I simply couldn’t face seeing it all again. Thank goodness for Opera North’s semi-staged Ring last year, which spared us at the producerese nonsense! And don’t get me started on the Bayreuth Walkure, which, mercifully, is the only one I’ve seen of that cycle.

            According to Opera magazine, there is Ring production taking shape in Japan which adheres closely to Wagner’s stage directions while making use of all the technology available in a modern theatre. I don’t suppose I will ever see it, but that sounds like my kind of production.

        • It’s sad that there still are people who let themselves be taken-in by the idea that an ‘old’ opera should be tarted-up to make it ‘relevant’ for today.

          We don’t ‘improve’ Bach’s WTK with electric guitars and electronic noise to have the music connect to contemporary audiences.

          • This is exactly what one of the Munich chief “Dramaturgen” (nomina sunt odiosa) has openly declared : that without the work of these guys, all these works would be “irrelevant”.

          • Funny. A rough guess, but with closed eyes and zero command of German, the music – particularly of a work like Parsifal – alone would still evoke about 80% of it’s emotional potential. The staging, costumes and the words are just a 20% addendum for the ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’. Those who are tasked with staging those parts, director and ‘dramaturgen’ are just a minor part of any opera performance. It’s the music that matters most and it doesn’t need adaptation to our times anyway.

          • Somebody was recently complaining to me about seeing “The Magic Flute” in the cinema, regietheater style, with a circus backdrop. She was annoyed by this and felt it was gratuitous. Another friend walked into the room on the tail end of this discussion and said “I liked it; but then I’m easy to please”. Bingo. Not wanting to get embroiled into an argument with my friend I winked discreetly at the woman who make the complaint!!

    • I was only there as a radio listener, and I wondered often why I had avoided Parsifal my whole life. Some parts were transforming and even spiritual… even though I am the opposite of a believer. While I am still a Puccini worshipper, I am wondering if maybe I should pay more attention to Wagner in my old age.

      Could someone please enlighten me, however, why Wagnerian mezzos wobble so much. Is that a style? The male leads were all wonderfully on the mark.

      • “while I am still a Puccini worshipper, I am wondering if maybe I should pay more attention to Wagner in my old age” . . .

        Short answer: yes!

        Long answer: I haven’t got the time and energy. All I can tell you is that I haven’t regretted putting in the work (listening), so I think you might not as well (regret it, that is).

      • Usually old mezzos are superannuated dramatics who want to keep singing….and sometimes just sometimes they’re quite good at it.

  • I’d always trust Rupert Christiansen’s judgement on opera. Thanks for posting here, shedding light for those of us who were not there.

  • BR Klassik’s broadcast from last night is still available to listen to on their website.

    The 8 July performance will be shown live on the Bayerische Staatsoper website.

  • Almost all contemporary productions ruin the operas they accompany. Best experienced with ears only, eyes closed.

    Parsifal is a tale of mediaeval knights. The production should reflect that in the stage design, costumes, etc. Enough of this modernist tripe with visuals designed to be “shocking” for it’s own sake (and which also usually misrepresent and subvert the meaning and intent the underlying story).

    • “Almost all contemporary productions ruin the operas they accompany. Best experienced with ears only, eyes closed.”

      I agree. Furthermore, “contemporary” productions (Why does contemporary always stands for visually disgusting when it comes to opera? It’s not like we couldn’t make it pleasant nowadays…) like this kind of ruining Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk experience.

    • “Best experienced with ears only, eyes closed.”

      Yes. It’s a bit like looking at a Burger King whilst trying to think of Chartres Cathedral.

      AND having to pay for the privilege.

      No thanks.

  • It’s not over until the fat women sing – oops, how politically-incorrect of me . I mean, until the ‘weight-control challenged’ women sing.

    Your German tax dollars hard at work.

  • Heard the last 10 minutes by happenstance on the radio–a tenor voice bellowing with a vibrato from North to South. Not really an incentive to check out the preceding 4 hours.

  • I am listening to the online stream of yesterday’s live transmission by the Bayerischer Rundfunk, and what I hear is simply heavenly sublime. This is the singers’, the orchestras’, chorus’ and conductor Kirill Petrenko’s Parsifal. Their performance is as ideal as it gets. Bavarian Radio will keep this treasure online for two more weeks [Go to: https://www.br-klassik.de/programm/radio/radiosendungen-100.html, then look for calender icon in upper right quadrant of your screen “Datum wählen”, then click June 28 in the calender pop up, and scroll down until “TIPP – 16:00 Uhr”, which shows a still of the opera. Look for the word “mehr >”, and click on it: Then you see a still picture with a speaker icon on top – that’s the key to this great musical kindom, click and listen and be forever changed by this exquisite rendition] . Or one can listen and watch via live stream on the Bayerische Staatsoper TV site on Sunday, July 8, beginning 17:00 h local time in Munich. The production review by the Bavarian Radio classical critic leaves not much of Audi’s directorship intact, adding that putting the famous (and expensive) name of Georg Baselitz on the production team is not a substitute for the work of directing “Parsifal”. In some German opera houses, such as Munich or Dresden, there is the seat category of “Hörerplatz” – literally “Listening seat”, usually right under the ceiling with no view of the stage at all (but with discreet reading lights for when one brings a score so as to follow the musical proceedings in that manner). I immensely enjoy my “Hörerplatz” online and urge you to not miss the BR broadcast which is available at no charge for 14 more days. O Heiles hehrestes Wunder!

    • Thank you so much for the link. I have listened untill the kiss in act II and hope to continue with the rest of the work after a convalescense.

      • Listened to the 3rd act – beautifully done (musically). The famous Prelude is truly beautifully played. But the Karfreitagszauber is taken a bit too fast so that the special ‘redeeming’ feature is absent, Petrenko just pleasantly floats through the score, missing the meaning of that very special moment in the work. Jaap van Zweden does this much better in his famed concert performance in 2011 with the Dutch Radio Orchestra (at 43:16):

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSnJww6B13s

    • I seem to have to listen to ages and ages of boring ‘chat’. The page won’t let one fast forward to the music. I can’t be doing with that.

    • I agree that the music is the most important part, but opera should be a synthesis of many disciplines, both aural and visual. And when they all come together, it’s the best artform in the world.

  • At least those performers are costumed as nude, not actually nude. That’s theatrical.
    Wesley Balk was a great director of opera. His stagings overshadowed the miserable music of the contemporary operas he produced at the Minnesota Opera.

  • I remember the catastrophic Bayreuth Parsifal production by Stefan Herrheim . More than 40 people on stage during the first act when only 3 sing. Of course the Nazis in Act II and finally the Bundestag in act III. Where is the music?

    • May I just add for the record that this was one of the most acclaimed and admired stagings at Bayreuth in the last 20 years. Not everybody is chained to stage directions dating back to 1882, or counting the number of characters on stage as a yardstick of artistic endevour.

    • In the eye/ear of the beholder. For many the Herheim production was as definitive as Chereau’s Ring and whilst I thought it interesting, for me he massively over emphasises his productions. I’m much more in tune with Girard at the MET, which seems to me to have the contemplative stillness that Parsifal needs, and anyway the Bayreuth production was woefully undercast, something that could not be said for this Munich premiere, which listening to on BR KLASSIK was sublime. I live in hope of a definitive Parsifal but to date have been sorely disappointed. Maybe it is unstageable even when anything approximating an ideal cast is to hand.

      • Thanks Bystander, your points are interesting and valid – and, unlike most of the contributions here, informed.

  • The Flower Maidens look remarkably like the Rhine Maidens in Richard Jone’s Ring cycle at ROH in the 90’s. I seem to recall that he took a great deal of criticism then for his interpretation, I thought it excellent for what that’s worth, whereas his recent Parsifal in Paris was largely ignored. Maybe cutting edge regisseurs go blunt and rusty over time. Better to be a McVicar, the Zeffirelli de nos jours, for the audience that likes to applaud the sets and the frocks.

  • Judging only from photo yet – fantastic, excellent staging. It is Bayerische Staatsoper, not MET. And Baselitz is Baselitz. And Audi is Audi. That’s all. Everyone must choose what to watch or not.

    • True. But operas are produced with tax money and are part of public space in which the culture’s highlights are supposed to be presented. Imagine civil servants adding grafitti to the works in the Uffizzi museum to make them ‘more accessible’ to contemporary audiences.

  • The title was certainly misleading. Mit absicht?
    Kaufman was good but Gerhaher and Pape were the real stars.
    Petrenko was brisk but compelling.
    Locals expected an Audi but left with a Trabi.

  • Kaufmann sorry.
    And Rupert, I was also there and if you think flower maidens with menstrual stained vaginas is ‘restrained’ I would hate to see something you rate as extreme.

  • I eagerly await a performance where the producer stages the opera in a conventional way but with an orchestra equipped with tin whistles, bongo drums and zithers etc. Now that would be truly brave and original – and as nonsensical as any modernistic interptretation of the staging.

  • Regietheater, the product of a politically dependent subsidy system oblivious to public opinion, can end overnight. All it takes is one courageous culture minister to shut the whole thing down.

    • Ah yes, a return to the traditional where rich patrons can pay to see pretty pictures on stage, and singers walk to the footlights to belt out the arias they have only turned out to hear. Clearly if only Opera Houses were run at the whim of modern day Mrs Harringtons, strike the modern, things would be much more satisfying. Traditional Opera for the nostalgic, that’ll ensure it’s future.

      • It is a question of taste. If people don’t like it, why should they be obliged to pay for it?

        The booing shows once again that Regietheater is simply not to the public’ taste.
        The public from which taxes this spectacle is paid for.

        • The booing, I suspect, is from a group who turn out to ritually boo any first night, certainly that has been my experience on occasions at most theatres. It would be interesting to know whether it continues at subsequent performances. The live relay on the 8th will show the extent of the outrage. The assumption is that most Wagner is work in progress and I wonder whether Audi will return to modify his initial thoughts. As to the design, that is a fixture now and as ugly as it is Baselitz, given his perceived èclat, is unlikely to vary his conception although maybe the fat suits might get a rethink. One can at least hope.

      • This rather fatuous and sarcastic comment has no relevance since the issue with regietheatre production is whether or not the audience were insulted. The Flower Maidens (as shown) clearly insult. Being bored by traditional presentations is something else entirely. From what one gathers from all today’s comments this production was the result of pompous smart-arses grossly over-stepping the mark (like Herheim’s dreadful Parsifal).

        Rupert C’s comment is made solely to be different and out-of-step – if this was a performance of a lifetime then we must offer our condolences to him.

        The best comment of the day is the suggestion that public money is being
        poured down the drain. With luck audiences will decide by staying away.

        • Many audience members already stay away, how many? It is almost impossible to measure.

          The issue here is loss of trust between public and artistic establishment, and staying away won’t solve the problem – as the german system is so designed that it can keep going regarding of audience.

          Engaged audience members, concerned artists (not all to afraid for their careers), and all interested, should come together and actively look for ways to stop this.

          Otherwise nothing will change.

      • Typical comment of someone who does not engage with the issue but merely cynically stands-by and thinks this is enough justification to throw-in a pebble.

        It is not Regietheater versus nostalgic, traditional staging without any understanding, but Regietheater as a distortion versus a staging which takes the work and its plot as a point of departure and tries to make it as clear as possible and as far as is necessary.

        Maybe reading a bit about the subject will help.

      • I think there’s a lot between regie theater like this Munich Parsifal and old-fashioned “praline box” productions and Riefenstahl inspired sceneries (specialist for that was Schneider-Siemssen). I don’t believe there are many people who want the old style unreflected back. However, I never understand why nowadays everything in Opera must be dark and dirty! And often enough the dark and dirty setting doesn’t even make sense! Gianni Schicchi in a mess – and the audience wondering why his family wants to get his house which is merely a ruin and needs probably more as its worth to make in inhabitable again. Don Giovanni at a bus stop (he’s a noble man, for heaven’s sake! And if he isn’t that, a good part of the plot is lost!), the ladies in Cosi knowing about the men’s “joke” – that makes them bitches at the first order and it unfortunately doesn’t suit the music. I could tell about other odd opera experiences – the merry widow where Danilo finally appears with a mg and shoots all the admirers; an Ariadne playing in an English country house during WWII – and why do they all speak German there?
        I think there are many, many possibilities between such idiotic and by now terribly boring stuff and posh stages with rustling goons or Germans with horn peaks on their helmets.

        • The main problem for me with Regietheater is the over-intellectualisationfor it’s own sake and the loss of the perception of a piece as an organic whole.

  • The second performance tonight. Maybe someone that attended could tell us whether the booing was as vociferous as the first night. Or indeed, whether there was any at all beyond the small minority that have encouraged 105 comments, surely a Slipped Disc record, so far.

    • I was there on 1 July – no booing at all, just extremely enthusiastic applause and cheering for all the singers and musicians, culminating in a standing ovation. IMHO it was just a terrible shame to have such an amazing dream cast of singers stuck in such an ugly production 🙁

      Does anyone know if there will be a CD or DVD of this released in future please?

  • The act with the Flower Maidens was very impressive in Met production of 2013. But the maidens were beautiful and seductive. I’m sure that it was a pleasure for Jonas to sing such emotional piece of Wagner’s music among those girls. I’m not sure that it was really pleasant for him in this new production.

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