This production is about as traditional as they come: a 1990s Bayreuth production, directed by Wolfgang Wagner, conducted by Giusppe Sinopoli. No acrobats, no flying pretzel monster, no nudity, no decaying rabbit. Boring, I should imagine...
You might think that: I couldn't possibly agree. This production is excellent, and strongly recommended.
The star of this production is not the director - it's the music of Wagner, ably interpreted by Sinopoli. I've watched Parsifal many times, in many forms. It tends to be ritualized, which is no bad thing, but Sinopoli brings a new freshness to the piece, and finds emotion within the ritual. The scene with Amfortas and his deceased father is delicately expressed. (Oddly enough, Schlingensief also focused on this scene, amidst the chaos of his production...)
The quality of the singing is splendid, for the most part.
Poul Elming's Parsifal was beautifully portrayed: incomparable heldentenor voice, plus a careful portrayal of Parsifal as the Tor, the simpleton: not stupid, merely incapable of dealing with the complexities and hypocrisies of life. In some portrayals, he seems to lose his innocence in the final act. Not in this production. He managed to combine authority with simplicity.
It was fun to see Falk Struckman as Amfortas. We saw him in this role at the Met in 2003, chewing the woodwork and appealing to the gallery. The character of Amfortas deserves no less.
Interesting to see Linda Watson as Kundry. She was fine, but the fey quality of the role seemed to have eluded her. Not unlike her current portrayal of Brünnhilde.
Hans Sotin's Gurnemanz was no more than adequate, but the rest of the cast compensated for this. I usually feel that the the performance of Parsifal stands or falls on Gurnemanz. This performance managed to stand on its own feet.
Any anomalies? Kundry helped Parsifal to raise the Grail. Rather effective, and a subtle bit of regietheater.
A worthy addition to any Wagnerite's library