Cher Public

Broadcast: Parsifal

We move on to Bayreuth’s revival of Parsifal. Broadcasts from various sources begin between 9:45 and 10:00 AM EDT. Photo: Enrico Nawarth

  • Camille

    Pankratova is a marvel! The best live Kundry I’ve ever heard (I did not hear Leonie nor the great Mödl nor Creapin). I can hardly believe the accuracy of pitch with which she assaults the score nor the articulation of the text.

    Kudos and chapeau bas to a great singer!

    • Niel Rishoi

      Just saw the DVD of the performance last year. One of the best-sung Parsifalli I have ever heard. Pankratova is dynamite, a true soprano Kundry with the range, huge voice, confident delivery. I love her.

      • Porgy Amor

        Pankratova is alleged to be Met-bound as Turandot before long. The Future Met Wiki has her and Netrebko penciled in in the 2019-20 season.

  • Magpie

    I am really liking this Kundry. Other than some “stop just a bit too long before you hit that note”, she has a great metallic top without being grating. Parsifal is singing this beautifully, coloring the line wether he sings piano or forte (as much as i can tell with a laptop and earbuds…) Also, It is probably the compression by operacast, but it seems there are few moments of piano singing, Everything seems loud.

  • simonelvladtepes

    I just watched the blu-ray of this production from last year (just released). Harmut Haenchen clocked around 4 hours, and it felt very fast and perfect. I checked Boulez’ timings and was astonished they were about 21 minutes shy of 4 hours. I was curious how that was even possible, when Harmut Haenchen felt so fast at around 4 hours, so I played Boulez -- it’s perfect! Of course it’s not all about fast or slow, but personally I feel more than 4 hours is not good, even Kna. Gatti, I feel, was out of his mind. I can’t keep my concentration when they stretch the tempi.

    • After his first season with the Herheim production (2008), Gatti himself regretted dragging the opera out to 4 hours 29 minutes. I checked my archives, and in 2009 he sped up to 4 hours 12 minutes. In 2010 he relapsed: 4 hours 23 minutes. And then in 2010 -- his last year with the production (Philippe Jordan took over for the final year) -- he got down to a reasonable 4 hours 6 minutes!

      • simonelvladtepes

        Thank you for very interesting comments. Most of Boulez’ time saving is in act II and it sounds so much better to speed up in act II.

        I want to get some more Parsifals that clock under 4 hours. Is there a list somewhere?

        • Well, the archives at Wahnfried has a list of the timings of EVERY performance of Everything since 1876… I recall that Levine’s “Parsifal” is among the longest, especially Act I (over two hours).

          Meanwhile, let’s compare Boulez (2005), Gatti’s fastest (2011), and Haenchen in 2016:

          Boulez -- 92 minutes/ 59 minutes / 65 minutes
          Gatti -- 105 minutes / 66 minutes / 75 minutes
          Haenchen -- 94 minutes / 64 minutes / 72 minutes

          For me, it’s Boulez’ speed in Act I that makes all the difference.

          • Camille

            I have attended many a Levine Parsifal and was brainwashed at a certain point into thinking that was IT.

            Somehow I awoke from this delusion —-I don’t recall how or where, but am grateful to have snapped out of it. I do regret not having gone to the ’79 Ludwig/Vixkers performances, though although I don’t fancy her singing of soprano roles very much.

            My husband has long referred to JL’s wagnerian tempi as “Tempo di molasses”.

        • Camille

          Where does he exactly speed up in Akt II or would you be aboe o indicate that approximately? I’m furious.

          If it’s any consolation I was similarly driven to distraction by Gatti’s direction of the Parsifal. At first I took to my score to explain it as I thought I’d forgotten a lot. That didn’t help. I still did not know what the hell he was doing. I took to the full score and still couldn’t understand it and listened yet another time. Then I gave ip.

          I think that I’ve not listened to Boulez in this and now must. Curiosity killed the opera cat.

          • simonelvladtepes

            Throughout, really, look at JML’s numbers, but the tempo feels rushed only in the beginning and in Klingsor -- Kundry exchanges, less so with the Blumenmädchen, and not at all with Parsifal -- Kundry, which is about right: it starts furiously and gradually becomes contemplative. Once Kundry loses it he speeds up furiously again. There is a lot of rage underlying this act according to Boulez -- perfect.

            • Camille

              Very interesting and thanks for the information as I now realize this recording has always gone under my radar and it would indeed be worthwhile to give it a spin. There is so much latitude with this score--it’s mind boggling. Now I’m curious about the Toscanini but if it’s slower than Levine’s--I don’t know I’d survive it all.

              Thanks vlad.

      • southerndoc1

        And Toscanini was 4 hours, 42 minutes at Bayreuth!

      • Satisfied

        Curious what his time was at the most recent MET run…those performances just flew by.

        • I assume you were inquiring about Gatti (or did you mean Levine’s last go-round in 2001?).

          Here are Gatti’s timings at the Met on 02 March 2013 (excluding all applause):

          111 / 70 / 79

          Total: 4 hours 20 minutes

          • Satisfied

            Thank you!

          • Leontiny

            The Parsifals at the MET with Vickers and Ludwig with Levine at the end of the 70’s were my firsts. The intensity is what remains with me. The staging was stupid, but the performances were so deeply felt, or perhaps that is youth before experience and judgement. All I remember is tottering out of the theatre wondering why my shirt was soaking wet then realizing it was tears. Love to know what the timings were especially now that Boulez’ conducting means so much to me.

            • Levine’s the timings given for the broadcast of 14 April 1979 in Opera News:

              Act I -- 106 minutes
              Act II -- 65 minutes
              Act III -- 70 minutes

              I was a veteran by that point: I remember the production when it was NEW!

  • Parpignol

    wonderful musical performance and the production is quite interesting if not completely satisfactory; in the house Zeppenfeld was the vocal star of the show, but all the principals were very good and McKinny sang Amfortas boldly naked, or pretty much, and Groissboeck is MVP utility guy with cameo as Titurel; and ohmygod the men’s chorus sounded great!