Not everyone will find Dmitri Tcherniakov's interpretation of Parsifal in Berlin in 2015 to their taste, but it works hand in hand with Daniel Barenboim's conducting in a way that explores the big themes of Wagner's final work well. Not surprisingly, Tcherniakov places Parsifal in a modern-day setting rather than in some ancient, mythological fantasy location, but what is surprising is how faithful and literal the controversial director actually remains to the letter of the libretto. There are few of the usual shock elements that the director is known for, revisions that have been known to completely overturn the original intentions of some operas. This one is almost reverential in its treatment - well, up to a certain point, at least...
The intention appears to be not so much to deglamourise as humanise Parsifal and relate it to a recognisable human condition. The bearded Knights of the Grail in Act I are shabbily dressed in loose woollen jumpers and hats, looking rather like they've just been released from imprisonment in a gulag, which is how a survivalist cult living in the woods might indeed look. Act II becomes a little Stefan Herheim, taking place in a schoolroom where Klingsor's Flowermaidens are schoolchildren, and where a flashback scene of Parsifal's sexual awakening occurs. The intention would seem to be to have this stand in for the idea of the loss of innocence and of shame. It's a minor diversion from the script, briefly returned to in Act III with a doll and a toy knight on a horse, but despite a charged performance from Shager and Kampe as Parsifal and Kundry, it doesn't really succeed in its attempt to touch on the human nature of the sentiments here.
It's only right at the end of the work that Tcherniakov's individual interpretation comes into play and that the relationship of Amfortas and Kundry is seen as one of the more significant aspects of the work, foregoing the more common points of emphasis. Whether the right spirit of redemption and a return to innocence is met in Gurnemanz's actions - stabbing Kundry in her embrace with Amfortas on the final notes of the opera - or whether it is a reaction to the treatment of women within the work as a whole, it at least sees Tcherniakov at his controversial best, making a valid commentary on the work in the context of how we might regard it today. There's no question that this ending clearly makes a powerful impact.
- Format: Widescreen
- Language: German, English, French
- Subtitles: English, French, German, Korean
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: Naxos Deutschland Musik & Video Vertriebs-GmbH / Poing
- DVD Release Date: 30 Sep 2016
- Run Time: 252 minutes
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- ASIN: B01HSFG6V6