Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I lasted 3.5 hours....

Well, it was Wagner's Parsifal, in the opening event of the first Vilnius opera festival, with the Marinsky Theatre, Gergiev conducting, and lots of Russian singers. But boy, was it boring.

Did not help that I sat between a young American, who had flown over that day, and was asleep in the first act, jerking his head up about every minute, and an elderly Lithuanian, a keen concert goer, but who has a personal hygiene problem (in the downstairs department....).

Everyone who was anyone, was there (again!), including my shrink in a rather nice short black dress (she wears well, given that she is a few minutes older than me). The foyer was set up (again!) for a post-event reception - Gergiev must think that in Vilnius there are receptions after every concert.

But oh, that opera. I had not read the plot before; it's all about holy grails, sacred woodlands, mixed with Christian rituals (a communion service) and so on. Blah! The music is nice, but when the overture started with slow music I thought - that'll go on all evening! And so it did. Seems a very unbalanced opera; one guy does most of the singing in the first act; in the second act this guy is almost mute and Parsifal stands around at the side of the stage most of the time; in the third act Parsifal does most of the singing...and the rest I don't know, I was not there.

The set was standard Russian; first I thought it was the lite set for travelling, but it was quite cleverly put together with lots of different backdrops; but still a standard Russian faux-modern faux-old set. The dresses were fairly standard, too, operatic, total fantasy. Poor Parsifal appeared on his first entry just wearing tights on his legs; later he was allowed some boots and trousers.  In the third act some guy ghosted around with what appeared to be a grey Russian onion-dome on his head - his wig. Seemed to be carrying a spear.  At the beginning and end of that act there was quite a nice scene with lots of girls in very colourful costumes wafting around; it was really a very phallic scene, involving a sword, and I was trying to imagine what a more adventurous producer/designer might have made of this. (Sometimes it is hard watching or reading something with a psychoanalytic gaze).

The orchestra played beautifully; lovely string sound. In the overture I was not sure if the strings and winds were quite together, and certainly, in the ladies' scene, the girls' entries were well apart.  The singers were good, apart from one rather nasal tenor who had a couple of lines to sing.  But it was all standing around and singing.

For me, that's quite enough of Parsifal. Tomorrow it's an opera by Shchedrin....


puikioji said...

I lasted 5,5 hours. But I totally agree with many things you wrote about. Maybe our generation is not capable to reach that high holy spirit?