The Holy Grail, the cup that Christ used at the Last Supper, and the
spear used to pierce the side of Christ at Crucifixion are prominent symbols in
Parsifal, libretto and music by
Richard Wagner (1813-1883).
Parsifal, Wagner’s final opera (1882),
is the Live in High Definition simulcast from the stage of the Metropolitan
Opera in New York this Saturday, March 2.
Because the opera simulcast has an approximate running time of five
hours and forty minutes, the opera will begin at twelve o’clock noon.
vocal cast includes Wagnerian (large voices) luminaries of today’s opera
world. Munich native heldentenor Jonas
Kaufmann sings the title role of Parsifal, the “innocent fool” who will find
wisdom and bring redemption.
bass Rene Pape will sing the role of Gurnemanz, a noble Knight of the Holy
Grail and Swedish baritone Peter Mattei will sing the role of Amfortas, leader
of the Knights, who suffers from an incurable spear wound.
The role of Kundry,
cursed to be a seductress for laughing at Christ on the cross in a former life,
will be sung by Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman. “The thing I like best about Kundry is that
she is such a complicated character with a wide range of expressions both vocally
and scenically.” (Dalayman in Opera News).
bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin sings the role of the vengeful magician Klingson,
who has now joined the dark side after being rejected as a Knight.
Wagner called Parsifal a “festival play for the consecration
of a stage.” It was premiered at
Wagner’s own theater in Bayreuth Bavaria, Germany. To blend text, music and action into one
artistic whole was a lifelong goal of Wagner.
Do not expect a
string of memorable melodies, but do expect wonderfully dramatic orchestral
music played by the excellent musicians of the Metropolitan Opera orchestra
under the baton of Daniele Gatti. I dare
you to count the number of times Wagner uses the “Dresden Amen.” (Check your hymnbook.)
in his review for the New York Times writes “the Met debut for French Canadian
director Francois Girard presents Parsifal
in a post-apocalyptic setting…two barren sun-baked dirt-gray mounds are divided
by a river bed with just a trickle of flowing water, sometimes thick with
Not for newbies,
neophytes or the faint of heart because of the length, Parsifal also makes a lasting impression on the audience as well on
cast members. My first experience with Parsifal was when as a freshman I was
conscripted to be a Knight in a production in the Indiana University Auditorium
on Palm Sunday. IU faculty members
Charles Kullman, Ralph Appelman, Roy Samuelsen and Margaret Harshaw sang the
major roles, Tibor Kozma conducted and Hans Busch was the stage director. We started in the afternoon, took a dinner
break and finished the opera in the evening.
Wagner lovers in
West Virginia can see the Met Live in HD simulcast of Parsifal this Saturday, March 2, at twelve noon at the Cinemark
Theater at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville; Regal Nitro Stadium 12;
Hollywood Stadium 12 in Granville/Morgantown; and Greenbrier Valley theatre in
Lewisburg, as well as Cinemark Theater in Ashland, Kentucky. The opera in three acts will be sung in German
with English subtitles. Cinemark will show the encore performance on Wednesday,
March 20 at 6:30 pm.
Dr. Larry Stickler is professor of music at Marshall University.