Sunday, August 12, 2012
Herheim takes the story of Parsifal as the story of Wagner and Bayreuth themselves, a journey from isolation to disaster to the possibility of redemption. It's challenging but will make you see the piece and hear the music in many new ways. I saw this production live last year, with a slightly different cast and, from what I hear, slightly different production (I am watching this video tonight, so I can't yet say how different). Here is what I wrote about it then. I also recommend Wagneroperas.net's short introduction, which has links to many more reviews.
To be a ridiculous elitist, I expect the video is a poor substitute for the live experience. Camera direction is a problem with filmed Herheim--there's always a lot going on and the camera strictly controls what you see, including some things and excluding others and governing when you move from one part of the stage to another. (I think Rusalka in particular was far more exciting live.) But this production is also about the journey you took to get to Bayreuth, and why you made that not uncomplicated trip.
That's not meant to discourage you from watching this, indeed it would have been a travesty had this production not been filmed. (This is the last year it will be seen in Bayreuth before being replaced.)
The videos are on YouTube; I recommend downloading them because who knows how long they will stick around.
Postscript: I warn you against listening to Parsifal and Bohème in close proximity. At some point you will hear, in your head only, Rodolfo crying out "Mimì!" followed by the Heilesbuße-Motiv (the descending arpeggio), and it will be really weird.