THE HANGOVER REPORT – Yannick Nézet-Séguin triumphantly steers Wagner’s singular PARSIFAL at the Met

René Pape as Gurnemanz in Wagner's "Parsifal" at the Metropolitan Opera.

René Pape as Gurnemanz in Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Last night, the Metropolitan Opera opened this season’s run of Richard Wagner’s singular Parsifal, led by the company’s incoming music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. By all accounts, it was a triumph.

There really isn’t anything quite like Parsifal  in all of opera. Wagner’s opera, taking nearly six hours to perform across three lengthy acts, is really more of an immersive experience than it is your typical opera. The work tells the story of a “pure fool”, or “parsifal”, who redeems a mythical society from decay and destruction. The plot defies time and space, as does the opera itself. The work’s slow, hypnotic musical and thematic progression towards resolution and release rewards patience. Ultimately, Parsifal is not merely entertainment but a spiritual, mystical event.

It was a pleasure to revisit François Girard’s superb, deeply human five-year old production. The dark, post-apocalyptic-set staging is compelling, focusing on the murky, carnal intersection between the sacred and profane. Maestro Nézet-Séguin’s steered Wagner’s behemoth of a score with conviction and remarkable stamina. His reading paid attention to the work’s many nuances yet managed to maintain momentum and keep the score’s stately shape. Suffice to say, the Met Orchestra (and Chorus) sounded magnificent. Orchestrally, it was a transcendent evening.

The same can be said of the current cast, which includes the return of baritone Peter Mattei and bass René Pape to the roles of Amfortas and Gurnemanz, respectively (roles they originated when the production was new in 2013). Their vocally and dramatically committed performances, particularly Mr Mattei’s harrowing turn, remain stunning. As Parsifal and Kundry, robustly-voiced tenor Klaus Florian Vogt and soprano Evelyn Herlitzius, both keenly portrayed their characters’ expansive arcs with sensitivity and understanding.



The Metropolitan Opera
5 hours, 45 minutes (with two intermissions)
Through February 27

Categories: Music, Opera, Other Music

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