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An Earthly Parsifal

Gran Teatre del Liceu
02/20/2011 -  & February 24, 25*, 28, March 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 2011
Richard Wagner: Parsifal
Christopher Ventris (Parsifal), Evelyn Herlitzius (Kundry), Eric Halfvarson (Gurnemanz), Eglis Silins (Amfortas), Boaz Daniel (Klingsor), Ante Jerkunica (Titurel), Estefanía Perdomo (First Flowermaiden), Ana Puche (Second Flowermaiden/First Esquire), Inés Moraleda (Third Flowermaiden/Second Esquire), Beatriz Jiménez (Fourth Flowermaiden), Michelle Marie Cook (Fifth Flowermaiden), Nadine Weismann (Sixth Flowermaiden/Voice from Above), Vicenç Esteve Madrid (Firs Knight), Kurt Gysen (Second Knight), Antonio Lozano (Third Esquire), Jordi Casanova (Fourth Esquire), Paul Lorenger (Dancer)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, José Luis Basso (Chorus Master), Michael Boder (conductor)
Gran Teatre del Liceu/Opernhaus Zürich (coproduction), Claus Guth (direction), Christian Schmidt (sets and costumes design), Jürgen Hoffmann (lighting Design), Volker Michl (choreography), Andi A. Müller (video design), Ronny Dietrich (dramaturgy)

The opening night of this run of Parsifal was the 100th performance at the Gran Teatre del Liceu so it's a very special occasion for Barcelona's Wagnerian audience, and for Claus Guth, the production director. Claus Guth concludes with this title ten years dedicated to staging the whole Wagner operas.

The opening prelude stages the conflict between the two brothers, Amfortas and Klingsor. Titurel, their father, shows more affection for Amfortas than his other son. Klingsor leaves the castle angry.

Act I is set in a sanitarium, or maybe an asylum, at the end of World War I, where soldiers are convalescing from their wounds. This is an earthly vision of Parsifal where almost all the sacred is dismissed from the stage.

Guth uses with intelligence the revolving staging, using it as a dramatic element, all the transitions between the scenes are seamless, resulting in a very dynamic performance. The set, with two levels, allows Parsifal’s journey discovering the meaning of the Grail. This revolving staging is also used in the following acts.

Act II uses the same set, with little variations, to represent Klingsor's castle. The Flowermaidens are flapper girls trying to seduce Parsifal in a social party. Act III is the same castle from the act I, but this time the place is devastated.

Parsifal baptizes Kundry and after that Kundry burns his past, takes all her possessions in a suitcase, and exits pursuing a new life. This is a subtle change in the Wagner's work that maintains the coherence of Guth's production.

The performance ends closing the circle with Amfortas and Klingsor reconciliation; at the end everything goes back to its place.

Christopher Ventris was a fine Parsifal. His voice has a beautiful timber and it is big enough for the role. He is a very big man but his voice is a little boyish, giving more credibility to the character of the “chaste fool”.

Evelyn Hertlitzius was a fine Kundry with the dramatic intensity that the role requires. Her low notes were strong and round, her top notes are more metallic, with a little vibrato. Her rendition of the second act was impressive.

Eric Halfvarson still has a wonderful bass voice, his low notes are brilliant and he has no problems with the top ones. However, by the end of the performance, his voice sound a little tired.

Eglis Silins, as Amfortas, has a warm voice but his emission could be improved. Boaz Daniel, as Klingsor, was fine.

The surprise of the night was Ante Jerkunica as Titurel who possesses a wonderful and deep bass voice. He has no problems with the low notes of this part.

The male chorus was impressive during the performance; the female chorus was good but not at the same level as the male chorus.

The orchestra, under Michael Boder baton sounded good enough. The wind section had little problems at the beginning but had greatly improved by the end.

At curtain call the audience showed her interest for the production and the singers. Christofer Ventris, Evelyn Herlitzius and Eric Halfvarson received a deserved ovation.

Lola Vicente



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