Vienna mutes newspaper critics at its new Parsifal

Vienna mutes newspaper critics at its new Parsifal


norman lebrecht

April 13, 2021

Newspaper critics who were priveleged to witness the closed premiere of Kirill Serebrennikov’s new Parsifal production this weekend have been required to agree not to publish a review until after it is shown on TV next Monday.

Apparently, this condition was imposed by ORF national television and Arte, the French-German channel, to protect their viewers from possible spoilers.

Just another new Covid rule.



  • Herbie G says:

    What morons! Any critic could post a review on Facebook or Twitter at any time – even while listening to this production – which could have an instant circulation thousands of times greater than that of any newspaper or periodical that would otherwise have have carried the article.

  • Tamino says:

    Standard procedure for decades, or even centuries? Nothing new. Nondisclosure agreements with journalists until it is shown first to the public. In this case this is the first broadcast on Monday. Spare the outrage for something that is actually worth it.

  • Herbie G says:

    PS – as for suppressing ‘spoilers’, I can now reveal that at the end Parsifal unveils the Grail and Kundry dies. There, anyone thinking of booking for this production could now save a fortune and donate at least some of it to SD, once the website designers manage to get the ‘Subscribe/Donate’ button to work!
    Online payment is a routine function on thousands of websites and it’s unthinkable that ages after the newly-designed format went online the subscribe/donate buttons still don’t work! Potential donors who cannot make payments are unlikely to keep trying. I thought the purpose was to generate income, not lose it.
    It’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the website development company, having put their name at the very bottom of this page, on the right, in deservedly small print. (Hover your mouse pointer over the hexagon and all will be revealed.)
    Maybe it’s time for NL to consider changing website developers. There are plenty of sole traders who charge modest rates and can produce excellent results, as I discovered when I had to commission someone to produce a more up-to-date website for a charity of which I am a trustee.

    • Paul Dawson says:

      That is a spoiler. Far too many producers leave Kundry alive at the end.

      • Waltraud Becker says:

        ….as this new one does!

        • Jim says:

          …unless they feature Schrödinger’s Kundry!

          • John Borstlap says:

            Science students at the Freie Universität in Berlin are indeed shown a big box with a soprano in it when quantum mechanics are being explained. She is instructed to jump-out enthusiastically or ‘lay dead’ pathetically according to the lecture. It has been shown that students pick-up the improbability factor and the role of the observer much quicker with such demonstration.

      • Douglas says:

        Any confirmed sighting of a dove descending?

        • John Borstlap says:

          Presently, they are training the poor birds. But they seem to have their own opinion about the production.

      • BRUCEB says:

        Does she actually die though? The way I remember the libretto, she just “sinks to the ground.” Seems to me she could wake up and become an anchorite or something.

        (Of course, now that her struggle has been won, she could also die from just being tired; but to me she always seemed physically a little too tough for that. I have an easier time imagining her waking up and going “oh, I’m still alive? Well then, onward.”)

        • John Borstlap says:

          Good point. The same with Isolde at the end of Tristan – there is no indication in the libretto that she dies and the title ‘Liebestod’ was not by Wagner.

          Given the 19C female propensity for fainting as a result of overwhelming emotional experience, I think they merely faint. Isolde will write a book about her mystical experiences and outdated marital conventions, and Kundry will become Parsifal’s PA or executive of the grail community.

        • Paul Dawson says:

          The Dover full score has the stage direction “Kundry sinkt, mit dem Blicke zu ihm auf, langsam vor Parsifal entseelt zu Boden”. Google Translate ignores ‘entseelt’ in this quote and gives “Kundry slowly sinks to the ground before Parsifal with his (sic) eyes on him.”

          In any event, death is surely the only redemption from being cursed to eternal life and, perhaps I’m prejudiced, but the music at that point seems to me to signal death. Producers who leave her alive infuriate me.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Yes, Herbie G, the SD website redesign is proving to be a flop.
      As this absurd-looking Eurotrash production of “Parsifal” will prove to be.

  • John Borstlap says:

    But it is quite understandable. if you know what happens to Parsifal when he comes back from his wanderings, you are bereaved of the big surprise of anointing, Karfreitagszauber, etc. and the apotheosis at the grail castle.

  • JS says:

    Spoiler: they don’t need Kundry, living or dead, it’s all about boys (in prison). La prova: from this russian “actor” Instagram:

  • Tom Phillips says:

    A perfectly reasonable request.

  • Herbie G says:

    I guess leaving him alives makes it possible for a sequel – Parsifal II? In it, Parsifal and his wife leave for the USA and get interviewed by Oprah Winfrey?

    • John Borstlap says:

      They surely never get THAT old.

      Parsifal is about the opposition between asceticism and frivolous sexuality, without any middle ground. Both are extremes and apparently in Wagner’s mind when he wanted to express ‘the suffering of the world’, as he said he wanted with Parsifal. The only conclusion one can draw is that he never experienced normal love, which occupies that absent middle ground. For him, the most profound suffering of the world was the hovering between those extremes, which can be considered a deep and endless suffering (as amply expressed in the music) of an entirely superficial idea. That was the Wagner problem: an all-compassing soul operating a musical genius, combined with a confused intellect. This creates quite some problems for stage directors.