Shattering Parsifal

Dmitri Tcherniakov’s 2015 production of Wagner’s Parsifal recorded at the Staatsoper in Berlin in 2015 left me emotionally drained as I don’t think I’ve ever been after watching a recording.  I can only imagine what it must have been like to experience this live.  The combination of the production, exceptional singing and acting and Daniel Barenboim’s conducting is quite exceptional.  It’s not going to be easy to unpack it all coherently but here goes…

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Twilight

Last night the COC began its run of Götterdämmerung, the last and longest opera in Wagner’s epic tetralogy at The Four Seasons Centre.  It’s very different from Die Walküre and Siegfried.  The visual elements that tied them together; tottering Valhalla, disintegrating world ash, gantries, dancers, heaps of corpses are mostly gone.  In Tim Albery’s production the visuals are spare almost to abstraction.  The Gibichung Hall is a CEO suite with computer monitors and red couches, both Brünnhilde’s rock and the Rhinemaidens’ hang out look improvised, almost like squatters’ camps.  Costuming, apart from an occasional flashback, as in Waltraute’s scene, is severely modern business; grey suits, black dresses.  Only Siegfried himself in tee shirt and leather jacket stands out from the corporate crowd.  Dancing flames are replaced by red lights.  Everything that can be understated is and the world ends not with an overflowing Rhine and collapsing Valhalla but a stately pas de quatre between Brünnhilde and the Rhinemaidens.

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