Ambitious Parsifal

Wagner’s Parsifal both attracts and repels.  It has gorgeous music but a problematic plot that, on the surface, is a weird mash up of Christian symbolism, medieval romance and (more than likely) anti-Semitism.  With reference to the latter it’s no great surprise that an Israeli conductor taking on the work would want to take an approach that deals with that aspect head on.  That’s what Omer Meir Wellber does, with the willing collaboration of director Graham Vick in a production staged and recorded at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo in 2020.

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Butterfly in the 1950s

My quest to find a production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly that has anything insightful to say about the piece continues.  This time it’s the 2018 production from Glyndebourne directed by Annilese Miskimmon.  I was interested to see how a female director would treat the obvious problems with the piece.  Miskimmon’s solution is to shift the setting to early 1950s Nagasaki and to treat Butterfly as one of many real and fake war brides.  Apparently there was a thriving fake war bride business at the time.  The obvious problem of a Nagasaki setting is just ignored.

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Intense, if a bit weird, Onegin

Mariusz Treliński’s Eugene Onegin originated in Warsaw but was filmed in Valencia.  It’s distinctly on the Regietheater end of the spectrum but it’s intense and oddly compelling.  The sets are spare and almost abstract.  A silent character, O***, is interpolated.  he’s a sort of Commendatore’s ghost who comments on the action and interacts with characters at key moments; with Tatiana during the letter scene and with Lensky before the duel for example.  A lot of action takes place in front of the pit, usually simultaneously with action further back on stage making for quite complex (and hard to film) visuals.

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