Last week, again, was my birthday, and as the day after that was a public holiday, my girlfriend surprised me with tickets to a performance of Wagner’s opera Parsifal at Opera Frankfurt (check:http://www.oper-frankfurt.de/saison/2005_2006/seiten/premieren/parsifal.html).
That day was a rainy day, so we both were really happy, that she did decide to spend that public holiday in the opera instead of in the open…;-)
To make it short:
We both highly recommend that!
Two years ago I had been to Baden-Baden to the highly acclaimed performance of Parsifal by Nikolaus Lehnhoff, conducted by Kent Nagano (check, for example: http://www.hampsong.com/discography/discography.php?id=C0_37_16). I went there for Thomas Hampson as Amfortas (as you can derive from the link), and loved it.
Next week we will be back to Baden-Baden to see Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s version of Lohengrin (sadly without Thomas Hampson).
To compare these two Parsifal performances, we did watch the DVD (which I really can recommend), in order to prepare ourselfes (and my girlfriend, who didn’t know this opera before), so we went to Frankfurt well prepared.
So, were did we see the differences?
First: In Frankfurt we had Julia Juon as Kundry. In Baden-Baden it was Waltraud Meier. Although the world seems to value Waltraud as better, we both agreed, that Julia was much better. This is attributed to the fact, that Julia has more volume in the deeper registers, and as Kundry is a person, that “suffers” from long-evity, and the incapability of dying, that possibility to perform sadness and being tired by expressing it in deep and low tones, made her superior to Waltraud.
Second: In Frankfurt the scenary was not that dark and black as in Baden-Baden. That made for more moving feelings. Still: That sadnees in the scenary in Baden-Baden was intentionally so. In Baden-Baden, the Gral (Holy Grail)-scene in the first movement was missing some of the glamour (which Lehnhoff did intentionally), but at least I valued the more “traditional” setup in Frankfurt more. Helping here was the voice of Titurel, because it had not been put into the echo/background, but still remained on stage, at the table, and Magnus Baldvinsson has a really great voice! This together made for the most moving putting-in-scenary of this episode I’ve ever seen or listened to.
The second and the third movement didn’t fall short, so, as stated above, we can really recommend that performance. And the orchester was great. The only sad thing to say (but that’s also true for the Baden-Baden version) is, that the bells were electronic, and not real.