Bychkov’s Outstanding Parsifal

SpainSpain Wagner, Parsifal: Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus, Semyon Bychkov (conductor), Madrid Teatro Real, 18.4.2016. (JMI)

Photo (C): Javier del Real
Parsifal (c) Javier del Real

Co-production: Barcelona’s Liceu and Opera Zurich
Direction: Claus Guth
Sets and Costumes: Christian Schmidt
Lighting: Jürgen Hoffmann

Parsifal: Klaus Florian Vogt
Kundry: Anja Kampe
Gurnemanz: Franz-Josef Selig
Amfortas: Detlef Roth
Klingsor: Evgeny Nikitin
Titurel: Ante Jerkunica

This Parsifal is on a remarkable artistic level, with a modern and attractive stage production, outstanding musical direction and a good voice cast.

The stage production bears the signature of German director Claus Guth and was premiered at Barcelona’s Liceu in February 2011. I had the opportunity to see it and write about it then, and I still continue to consider it an excellent work by its author, done with imagination, but also with respect for the libretto and score. Here is what I wrote 5 years ago:

At the podium we had Semyon Bychkov, who proved again to be one of the great conductors nowadays. His reading was outstanding from start to finish, especially in the last two acts of the opera. Not that the first act was weak at all, it is just that I found impressive his conducting in the rest of the opera. I hope he can be back soon in Spain. Under his baton, the orchestra and chorus of Teatro Real gave a remarkable performance.

Klaus Florian Vogt was Parsifal in three of the ten performances, this being one his first  of the run. He is very familiar with the production, since he was also Parsifal in Barcelona. His voice may be whiter and lighter than what we are used to in this character, but he is an excellent singer and he never pushes his voice, reaching perfectly any corner of the house. His was a well-deserved success.

Also, as in Barcelona, German soprano Anja Kampe was Kundry. In recent times she is been singing more dramatic roles and that is felt in her high notes. She has always been a very intense singer and performer, and once again she has been a true example of an artist putting herself at the service of her character.

German bass Franz-Josef Selig was a good interpreter of Gurnemanz, though his voice lacks some weight and authority compared to the great interpreters of the past or even of the present day. He is a good singer, whom I find more appropriate in other characters.

Detlef Roth was no more than a correct Amfortas. Evgeny Nikitin was really good as Klingsor. Finally, Ante Jerkunica was a good Titurel, although he seemed more like Amfortas’s brother than his father.

José M. Irurzun

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