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Cher Public

  • MontyNostry: As I said here a few weeks ago, he really sounded really good as the Apparition in the ROH... 7:32 AM
  • manou: Mais naturellement, chère Fidelia. There is a particularly outré French joke in paragraph 1. which... 7:25 AM
  • Fidelia: Ah Manou, you are the joy of my life! Do you EVER make a bad joke? 7:17 AM
  • manou: Thanks Feld – nice musical morning. 6:56 AM
  • manou: Giuseppe Gipali does. 6:32 AM
  • Regina delle fate: lol – I thought “squash blossoms” was a euphemism for something more... 6:17 AM
  • Regina delle fate: Oh blimey, I have caused another row by using the word “provincial& #8221; .... 6:14 AM
  • Regina delle fate: Something like that. These are names that aren’t permanently on the rosters of the... 6:11 AM
  • Regina delle fate: Since when does Saimir Pirgu sound like an Italian name? 6:08 AM
  • Regina delle fate: No, not Pirgu. 6:08 AM

Sex please: we’re British

The finer performances of Tristan und Isolde have a way of sounding like a four-hour improvisation, the fruit of a single moment of inspiration that makes one forget how emotionally manipulative and painstakingly crafted the music really is.

A 2009 revival from Glyndebourne on the festival’s label does quite nicely in this regard, balancing secure and expressive singing by Torsten Kerl, Anja Kampe and Sarah Connolly with a transparent accompaniment by Vladimir Jurowski and the London Philharmonic that captures the opera’s shifting moods and the beguiling musical lines. Like Marek Janowski, the Russian maestro is less concerned with overwhelming the audience with epic sound or tragic intensity than with letting Wagner’s melodic ideas and forceful climaxes tell the story.   Read more »

The cup runneth over

Even after more than 30 years as a die-hard opera fan there are still parts of the repertoire I haven’t embraced. Benjamin Britten and myself are really only acquaintances and I’ve met Alban Berg but fear we shall never be friends. I really became an opera fan chronologically backwards starting with Puccini and ending, essentially, with Mozart and Handel. Only then came Wagner.

After distilling all those different musical styles and traditions, Wagner wasn’t really that difficult to wrap my head around, with the exception of Parsifal. I would check the score out from the library and follow along dutifully to the broadcasts waiting for the penny to drop. It was years before I finally understood the lengths of its constructive elements and how broad the expanses of melody and leitmotif were within that structure.   Read more »

Brass ring

Marek Janowski’s survey of Wagner operas on PentaTone so convincingly captures the pulse and dramatic flow of many of the works that the music-making at times sounds almost effortless.

The impression was sure to be tested by the last two installments in the series, Siegfriedand Götterdämmerung, which Janowski and the Berlin Radio Symphony and Chorus recorded in concert performances two weeks apart last March. Though the vocal and orchestral forces remain highly attentive to the veteran maestro’s wishes and the super audio sound vividly captures the acoustics of Berlin’s Philharmonie, the results are a bit of a let down, with overtaxed principals, occasionally underwhelming climaxes and wayward tempi.   Read more »

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Critical care

The experience of watching Wagner’s final opera Parsifal is frequently elevated to a spiritual occurrence, and productions have historically emphasized the religious dimension of the opera’s core themes of redemption and the dangers of temptation.

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Coupe de grâce

Our good friends at Opera Depot are currently offering a free download of Parsifal conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch at the 1963 Bayreuth Festival.

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The opposite of canard is truth

“Is Parsifal, then, a religious artwork, or is it a work ‘about’ religion?”

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The music lovers

The curious things about accepted wisdom is that sometimes it’s correct.

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Springtime for Wagner

Could Marek Janowski do for Wagner what the early music movement did for the Baroque and Classical repertory?

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Dark side of the moon

Finally some video of Stefan Herheim‘s Salome production shows up on YouTube.

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Equal rites

As with all good myths, certainly all the myths at the heart of Wagner’s operas, the juggling of symbols and archetypes and themes in Parsifal opens the piece to a great variety of interpretations.

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