Perhaps this encouraging report is signaling the beginnings of a unique new European trend in opera production: mounting an opera not according to the whims of the current director, but as the opera composer wrote it.
The Frankfurt Opera's new "Parsifal" is remarkable in a German context: a detailed staging that tells the story as it is written.
Christof Nel, often ferociously deconstructive, has delved into Wagner's 1882 work and come up with a treatment that is both profound and literal. The spear is a spear, the grail is a grail and Kundry drops dead when she's meant to.
Much as we would sorely miss gleefully savaging Eurotrash productions and the self-involved, self-indulgent twits responsible for them, we cannot help but wish that the Frankfurt Opera's production above described becomes in underlying concept (you should pardon the term) the new model for all opera production, and for all of Europe's (and America's) opera houses, even though that production is not quite the Real Deal yet (e.g., "[Director Christof] Nel blends ancient with modern, mystery with clarity. These [Grail] knights wear [modern-day] suits beneath their breast plates....").
On a related matter, here are more photos of the Robert Wilson production of Parsifal mounted last year by the Los Angeles Opera to go along with the photos we linked in our 21 February post on the production.
And our thanks for both the heads-up and the above links to attorney and culture blogger George M. Wallace of A Fool In The Forest whose excellent blog we now much too belatedly add to our exclusive Culture Blogs listing on the sidebar. Mr. Wallace attended the above referenced Robert Wilson production of Parsifal as well as the Wilson production of Madama Butterfly for the same company, and had this to say about them:
I had the pleasure of seeing Wilson’s Parsifal here in Los Angeles in December, and his Madama Butterfly in February, and I suspect based on those experiences that his Ring would be very much worth seeing. Both of the productions we had here have a "look" similar to what you see in the [Wilson production] Ring photos, and both productions served their music and text extremely well. Plácido Domingo was not particularly well cast as Parsifal – he’s too obviously too old for the character, and his voice was beset by an oncoming illness – but I thought Matti Salminen’s Gurnemanz more than made up for it. [...] Wilson’s Butterfly is frankly better than Puccini deserves; it is the only production of that opera that I would ever care to see again.
Concerning Mr. Wallace's sharp comments on Puccini and Madama Butterfly, we suspect that had we attended the Wilson production we would have voiced the very same sentiments.