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Wagner: Parsifal / Nagano, Ventris, Meier, Salminen, Hampson

Wagner / Ventris / Meier / Dsob / Fcbb / Nagano
Release Date: 05/25/2010 
Label:  Opus Arte   Catalog #: 7063  
Composer:  Richard Wagner
Performer:  Tom FoxChristopher VentrisThomas HampsonWaltraud Meier,   ... 
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsches Symphony OrchestraBaden-Baden Festival Choir
Number of Discs: 2 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Also available on standard DVD

Richard Wagner
(Blu-ray Disc Version)

ParsifalChristopher Ventris
KundryWaltraud Meier
GurnemanzMatti Salminen
AmfortasThomas Hampson
KlingsorTom Fox
TiturelBjarni Thor Kristinsson

Baden-Baden Festival Chorus
Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra
Kent Nagano
, conductor

Read more Lehnhoff, stage director

Recorded live at the Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden, Germany, August 2004.

- Illustrated synopsis
- Cast gallery
- Parsifal's Progress – a documentary analysis including interviews with Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Christopher Ventris, Waltraud Meier and many others.

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Menu language: English
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
Running time: 323 mins
No. of Discs: 2 (BD 50)

Note: This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players, and not compatible with standard DVD players.



WAGNER Parsifal Kent Nagano, cond; Christopher Ventris ( Parsifal ); Waltraud Meier ( Kundry ); Matti Salminen ( Gurnemanz ); Thomas Hampson ( Amfortas ); Tom Fox ( Klingsor ); Bjarni Thor Kristinsson (Titurel ); Baden-Baden Fest Ch; German SO Berlin OpusArte OA BD7063 DD (2 Blu-rays: 323:00) Live: Baden-Baden 4/04

Back in Fanfare 29:2, I was mightily impressed with the DVD release of this Parsifal. And not just the artistic values—the singing, Kent Nagano’s coherent leadership in the pit, and Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s iconoclastic production—but also Opus Arte’s technical execution. With full-boat high-resolution playback on Blu-ray, the effect is even more stunning. The television director, Thomas Grimm, films Nagano and the superb German Symphony Orchestra Berlin for the whole of the act I and III preludes, and the realistic detail of the players and their instruments is extraordinary. (This degree of verisimilitude is a mixed blessing when the singers start svitzing under the hot lights.) Likewise, the multichannel sound, DTS-HD Master Audio rather than the plain old DTS of the earlier release, is of SACD quality. String textures, brasses, and voices are richly characterized. Truly, this is a demonstration-quality item.

Subscribers can access the original review online at the Fanfare Archive (hint, hint) but five years on, my enthusiasm is undimmed and I’ll reprise my accolades. Lehnhoff conjures up a post-apocalyptic world, imagining Parsifal as “an endgame in the wasteland.” Any pretense of the work being a “religious” opera is gone: Parsifal does not make the sign of the cross with the holy spear when dispatching Klingsor and his realm at the end of act II. The feeling of hopefulness we experience at the opera’s conclusion, Lehnhoff tells us in a succinct but penetrating liner note, comes because “ a new world opens up which has liberated itself of all rituals and ideologies.”

The cast couldn’t be better, with every character emanating a powerful dramatic aura. In the title role, Christopher Ventris is a primitive creature but one who is willing to learn, an amalgam of Siegfried and Walther. Ventris’s voice isn’t massive but it’s well-supported and expressive. Matti Salminen’s voice is massive, and he manages the difficult task of making Gurnemanz’ lengthy expository paragraphs in the first act dynamic and interesting. Thomas Hampson is a wonderful singing actor, palpably rendering all of Amfortas’s agony, guilt, and weariness. There’s a Psycho -like depravity in the air as he exhumes the decaying corpse of Titurel in act III. Tom Fox is a commandingly evil presence and Waltraud Meier does a phenomenal job with what is surely Wagner’s most challenging female role, representing the full range of Kundry’s persona, the seductiveness, rage, and—wordlessly, in the final act—her gentle, loving penitence.

The high-resolution audio delivers the complex vocal writing for the Flower Maidens with exceptional clarity; all the choral work is very accomplished. The long running time for the set—two BDs as opposed to the three DVDs, though the list price is $10 higher—is accounted for by the 75-minute Parsifal’s Progress , a worthwhile “documentary analysis” directed by Reiner Moritz. For Wagnerians looking to break the ice with the Blu-ray format, this is a great place to start, followed by Nagano’s Lohengrin and the wonderful Valencia Ring.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
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Works on This Recording

Parsifal by Richard Wagner
Performer:  Tom Fox (Baritone), Christopher Ventris (Tenor), Thomas Hampson (Baritone),
Waltraud Meier (Mezzo Soprano), Matti Salminen (Bass), Bjarni Thor Kristinsson (Bass Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra,  Baden-Baden Festival Choir
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1877-1882; Germany 

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