Striking new look for 'Parsifal' at Met in NYC
Integral to the production are the video projections by Peter Flaherty, a constantly shifting array of multicolored shapes that sometimes resemble storm clouds, a moonscape or even contours of the female body.
Kaufmann, more than most Parsifals, looks and acts the part of a callow youth to perfection in the opening scene. Vocally, he rises to the stirring climaxes in Act 2 with his customary thrilling tone, then seems to deliberately hold back in Act 3, giving many of his phrases a hushed, worshipful quality.
To bass Rene Pape falls the longest role in this or just about any opera, the knight Gurnemanz who doubles as narrator and father figure. Pape pours out unstinting rich, velvety sound, but just as important, his is a deeply felt interpretation: His joy at the miracle that has brought Parsifal back and saved the knights brings tears to his eyes — and ours.
As fine as Kaufmann and Pape are, the revelation of the night is baritone Peter Mattei, tackling the role of Amfortas for the first time. When has any singer so powerfully expressed the suffering of this tormented character while producing burnished sounds of such breathtaking beauty? His monologues in the first and final acts are the musical and dramatic highlights of the evening.
As Kundry, soprano Katarina Dalayman rises to the challenge of the seduction scene with a fearless performance, her singing blemished only by a couple of troublesome high notes. Baritone Evgeny Nikitin blusters his way with suitable menace through the role of Klingsor, and debuting bass Runi Brattaberg makes the most of the brief offstage utterances of Amfortas' father, Titurel.
Gatti, conducting without a score, is clearly enraptured by the Met orchestra's ability to spin a glorious web of sound. On opening night, the players returned the compliment, remaining in the pit while he took his bows on stage with the cast and production team. As always at a Met premiere of an adventurous production, there were a few boos for the director, but they were drowned out by cheers.
There are six more performances through March 8, including a live high-definition broadcast to movie theaters around the world on March 2. Asher Fisch takes over as conductor for the last two performances.
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