Cher Public

Blood simple

“One of the things I’m gradually learning as I’m coming up my the 20th anniversary of writing about opera for publication is that you have to be wary about making Pronouncements, because no matter how obvious or intuitive a hard-and-fast rule seems to be, if you write it down where people can find it, one of these days it’s going to embarrass you.” Our Own JJ contemplates François Girard‘s production of Parsifal in the latest installment of Rough and Regie.  

In other news, today’s installment of Operavore (at noon instead of the usual 12:30) features a surprise guest!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    For sure the MET has a triumph with the new Parsifal.
    Deep in Girard’s wound they keep fit like this:

    Some of the goupings remind me of this:

    • La Valkyrietta

      Does any of it remind you of this at all?

  • RosinaLeckermaul

    Thanks to JJ for this cogent analysis. This is the PARSIFAL I saw last Friday and hope to see again, at least on HD.

    • FragendeFrau82

      What she said. Indeed, JJ added to my understanding of what I saw. Looking forward to seeing it again on 2/27 and 3/2. Praying that all the cast remain healthy…

      • bluecabochon

        I hadn’t thought of that, that Parsifal looks down into and enters the wound itself. It’s a brilliant idea that makes perfect sense! Excellent writing, JJ.

  • Salome Where She Danced

    Before Girard, Carsen, and Prince used large mirrors to reflect an audience back to itself, the no-nonsense lesbian village pageant director Miss LaTrobe did it in BETWEEN THE ACTS (Virginia Woolf, 1941).

    • armerjacquino

      Girard, Carsen, and Prince

      Not to mention Michael Bennett…

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Nothing worse than watching the conductor’s reflection in a mirror that’s supposed to represent something more than that. It’s really cliché.

    • oedipe

      There are mirrors and mirrors: like all the other stage props, mirrors are mere devices. It’s all about how you use them. The Girard mirror draws you in, it startles you: it’s THAT effective! So you get to be dragged out of your torpor, or you are moved, or get offended or irate, or whatever effect the performance happens to have on you, before the whole thing even starts.

      • Jack Jikes

        Beautifully put! A mirror can open a whole world (Girard) or reveal an infinity of nothingness (Bennett).

      • Camille

        Monsieur œdipe:
        Last night this thought occurred to me—I would be interested, that is if you plan to attend the HD, in hearing your impressions of the Met Parsifal vis-à-vis the production as you originally saw it in Lyon.

        Mille fois merci,

      • FragendeFrau82

        I have to admit I’m thrilled to bits to be an ally of oedipe as regards this production.

        • oedipe


          Will do, after the HD.


          You should be DOUBLY thrilled: I believe you are an ally of Operassport too as regards this production! I can’t vouch for Basso, though…

          Actually, I must confess when I first saw it, I was afraid few Parterrians would like this production. So I am myself thrilled to see that so many people, who usually have very different viewpoints, do like it.

  • La Valkyrietta

    Thanks for the blood simple review, it helped me comprehend why so many like the visuals of this production.

  • Thank you for another fascinating read. I’m always amazed at how much JJ is able glean from a production after a single viewing.

  • Camille

    It’s more than just a little heartbreaking to me, Cieca, to see Dr. Repertoire’s Rule Numero Uno trampled on after so many years of having been A True Believer and having quoted said rule in earnest to so many others.

    Well, life moves on and rules are made to be broken, aren’t they? At any rate this is a fine companion piece to the Equal Rites thread and further clarifies in very readable and no nonsense fashion the proceedings of this production.

    So, even if mein armer Herz ist gebrochen, here’s hoping this Rough Guide to Parsifal will lead me on to the manna for which it hungers. That mythical Arabian balsam that cures the uncurable heartsickness we all possess.

    • While I agree with Dr. Rep’s rule about staging overtures, I also adhere to the “never say never” rule. Far too many productions stage the overture to zero (if not detrimental) effect. But if a director has something to say by staging the overture (something that needs to be said during the overture), then by all means do it. The effect achieved by Girard (as described by JJ) sounds compelling.

    • Well, it’s been quite a year or so for Parsifal preludes. Calixto Bieito did one very effective thing with this music.

      And Stefan Herhem did something quite different but similarly strong.

      • La Valkyrietta

        I must say I have never seen an acted Parsifal prelude I have liked. I feel they are all not up to the music, and distracting, just perhaps like a dear friend talking during the prelude about what the drama is about.

        Further, this whole Girard production is not my cup of tea. I would not have liked it even if the flower maidens, cheer leader like, would twirl their spears in the second act to make them look like windmill vanes so as to hint to the Don Quixote side of Parsifal.

        I feel warmed by remembering the boos on the prima at the Met for Girard, but I confess that I feel in the minority here for not liking this production, I feel like a dinosaur even if I’m happy for all that enjoy it. I can’t help it, I’m old fashioned.

  • grndvu

    In the writeup over at Classical Review, one commenter mentioned never having heard bells as they sounded in this production.

    At the Thursday performance, I was similarly struck. When the chimes/gongs/organ were sounded in acts 1 & 3, they were _loud_ (and a bit out-of-sync), as was Titeral in act 1.

    Not possible that there was amplification, right?

    • lawson

      From Family Circle, I noticed there was an electronic keyboard set up towards the rear of the pit. It was too far away to be certain, but I think that keyboard was the source of the bell sounds. For sure, the presence the guy playing the keyboard seemed to correlate well with passages in the score involving bells.

      I too noticed they seemed a bit out of sync.

  • FragendeFrau82

    No one yet has mentioned the very closing moment as the curtain falls: Parsifal, holding the grail aloft, looks to his right as a women steps toward him (Lohengrin has to come from somewhere)

    I noticed that this happened when the curtain was almost halfway down and realized that perhaps only the orchestra seats could see it.

    Oedipe, do you remember this from Lyon? I *think* Opera Cake mentions it in his review but can’t remember.

    Or perhaps it has been discussed and I missed it.

    I like it.

    • oedipe

      Yes, I do. And your interpretation makes sense, especially in view of the importance Girard gives to women and “womanhood” in this production.

  • FragendeFrau82

    I CAN’T BELIEVE I TYPED A WOMEN. I think some evil autocorrect typed that. One of my absolute bugbears!

  • sfmike

    Lovely writing, La Cieca. Am not a fan of this opera but you made me want to see the production.