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Subject: Re: Met Parsifal Prima: Welcome to Monsalvat
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Tue, 6 Feb 2018 15:16:06 -0500
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I had some difficulty tuning in last night and, there were several glitches on 
Sirius including an infuriating “This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast 
System . . . “ a few minutes into one of Gurnemanz’s 3rd act monologues 
and worse – Sirius dropping out during Parsifal’s final line and receiving 
the “content not available” message before Mahler began playing from 
another Sirius channel.  Even these, however couldn’t (fully) spoil the 
effect that was being made over the air, and, based on good evidence, 
emanating from the house itself.  

Yannick Nézet-Séguin led what can only be described as an extraordinary 
reading of an extraordinary score and his love for this score was made 
palpable in its execution.  Moments, like some of those orchestral 
interludes during Gurnemanz’s monologues that change its tone which 
many others either gloss or languish over, here crackled with life, a 
vibrancy in the strings that was electric.  

The first transformation scene went about as beautifully as Furtwangler, 
with a similar sense of moving forward and at Gurnemanz’s response (my 
favorite line from any opera) to Parsifal’s observation:

"Du siehst, mein Sohn,
zum Raum wird hier die Zeit!"

We were all along for that journey.  Here was shape and form, expansive 
where it needed to be, then firm . . . taut with a momentum like some 
great galactic force pulling each of us, inexorably, into its core.  I was, as I 
always want to be by Parsifal, overwhelmed and transported.  

That same care and detail, without being over precious was to be heard 
also in the Good Friday music, every measure part of the journey.

In the title role Klaus Florian Vogt will not likely be to the liking of some 
(most?) of our listers here.  My first encounter with him – about ten years 
ago – found me perplexed . . . the tone that, I thought, of a countertenor.  
After a few years I’ve come to love his interpretations of both Parsifal and 
Lohengrin.  Vogt began his musical career as a horn player with the 
Philharmoniker Hamburg and played in the pit for Parsifal.  There is a 
purity of tone – almost treble like – in his singing that I feel works 
wonderfully in this role paired against both Frau Herlitzius and Herr Pape 
brought an interesting aural tapestry, all the richer for its inclusion of light.  

Making her company debut, Evelyn Herlitzius offered a wonderfully drawn 
Kundry.  Bolder than many, more wild than some in her delivery.  When 
she wanted sleep, you just know that no one in the world has ever been 
more exhausted than this lady.  She took interesting liberties with her 
laugh at Klingsor – beginning it earlier and lasting longer and 
less “measured” than one is generally accustomed to.  She was sensational 
and different than my other favorite Kundries who offered more plush to 
their sound (think Ludwig, Troyanos, et. al.) and more in the Modl and 
Meier vein.  

Of Klingsor, all one can say of Evgeny Nikitin is that he sings the role as 
though born to it.  Too often for my taste has Klingsor had a wiry sound, 
more “Merlin the Magician” not enough menace.  Not so Nikitin who roars 
through the part like a beautiful, sexy howling beast.  

His Blumenmädchen sounded sexier than usual, girly and wild (“Girls Gone 
Wild,” I remarked to friends last night on FB).  They definitely didn’t sound 
like middle-aged matrons in caftans beckoning a hefty tenor in boy’s 
clothing.  There was definite “snap” going on in their sound which somehow 
managed to be both luscious and lean.  Delightful.

When Peter Mattei first took on Amfortas everyone  (including me) thought 
why?  Well, he showed us all why when this production first appeared here, 
and, as though we could possibly forget, reminded us again last night.  The 
elegiac quality of his suffering is exquisitely portrayed, the sound, focused, 
unforced, open with a raw beauty so exposed it almost feels “raw.”  

Rene Pape has, from the beginning, been one of the most beautifully sung, 
sonorous Gurnemanz in my experience.  He belongs up there with the best 
interpreters of the role.  While at this stage of the game a singer could just 
offer what he knows would “sell” – Pape goes beyond this.  One can hear 
some age in his voice, softening the old knight’s sternness, and, if at all 
possible, deepening the intensity, whilst balancing it with gentleness.  
Nowhere was this more evident than in the Good Friday music, where he 
evokes nature itself and spins out such tenderness in:

"Nun freut sich alle Kreatur 
auf des Erlösers holder Spur, 
will sein Gebet ihm weihen."

Just his mere utterance of “Kreatur” is a model of exquisite word painting. 

Everything about this performance lifted my heart up last night, made me 
glad to be alive right now regardless of what else is happening in this crazy 
world.  For six hours last night we had the opportunity to be lost in the 
time space continuum on our way to Monsalvat.  

I can hardly wait to experience this live in a few weeks – and that, friends, 
is an understatement.

p.

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