New York Post, February 17, 2013
Wagner: Parsifal, Metropolitan Opera, 15. Februar 2013
Bloody great!
Like the hero of “Parsifal,” who finds the Holy Grail after a lifetime of frustrated wandering, the Met’s audience was finally rewarded for its patience: On Friday, after seasons of mediocrity, the company delivered a magnificent new production of Wagner’s valedictory work.

Heading the superb cast was Jonas Kaufmann as the shy boy who grows into the savior of the Grail. His brooding tenor sounded hushed and tentative in early scenes before opening up to a full, throbbing cry for the cathartic solo “Amfortas! Die Wunde!” in the second act. Later, for Parsifal’s return, he tottered across the bare stage, shirtless and barefoot, his voice a world-weary groan.

Matching him in intensity was Peter Mattei, whose velvety baritone contrasted with the agony of the guilt-wracked King Amfortas, so frail he had to be carried on by two of his knights. Nobly handled, too, were René Pape’s long monologues as Parsifal’s mentor Gurnemanz, every word emerging crystal-clear in his rich golden bass.

Evgeny Nikitin’s scheming sorcerer, Klingsor, snarled with a chilling bass-baritone while screechy high notes marred Katarina Dalayman’s otherwise lithe singing as the enigmatic temptress Kundry.

The brightest star in this constellation was conductor Daniele Gatti, who led an idiosyncratic, romantic reading of the nearly five-hour score.

Sensuous orchestra textures and lurching tempos conjured a disorienting effect befitting Wagner’s dreamy story.

Enhancing the eerie feel, director Francois Girard reset the medieval myth in a parched modern landscape inhabited by a fundamentalist sect.

A prayer circle of business-suited men dominated the stage with a huddle of veiled women segregated in a distant corner. And in the mysterious second act, Parsifal confronted the seductive flower maidens in a womb-like grotto awash in more than 1,000 gallons of stage blood.

In this reverent take on the composer’s morality drama, every movement evolved from the music, and the theme of spiritual redemption always shone bright.

This “Parsifal” is the best work the Met has done in years. Not only is it exquisite pleasure for the eye and ear, it’s also food for the soul.

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