Skip to content
Arts & Culture
Link copied to clipboard

Yannick's 'Parsifal' at the Met gets a big bravo from picky New Yorkers

Philadelphia Orchestra's music director has a loving audience for his other gig.

Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry and Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role of Wagner’s “Parsifal.”
Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry and Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role of Wagner’s “Parsifal.”Read moreKen Howard / Metropolitan Opera

Though Parsifal is all about inner transformation — specifically of an innocent lad who is ordained to redeem a society of sin-wounded Holy Grail keepers — the Met's atmospheric 2013 production by Francois Girard is more full of exterior weather imagery with twilight clouds and beautifully composed stage pictures. Knights of the Holy Grail are sometimes shown in silhouette, reminding you what an impact Wagner's myth-steeped opera had on the symbolist movement.

The images have a level of abstraction that's going to speak differently on any given day. The columns of vertical light in Act III reminded me of the commemorative 9/11 light-beam tribute in downtown Manhattan in one minute, and the twister from The Wizard of Oz in another moment. The much-publicized blood that sometimes soaks the stage floor can suggest wounds or redemption. Thus, one can have a surprisingly personal relationship with an opera whose mythology can feel remote.

In the title role, tenor Vogt aided that. The vulnerability of his light, boyish sound also invites you in, even if some opera-goers might prefer the more virile Jonas Kaufmann. The Vogt voice has plenty of spine (and never more so than in recent years), so he's not going to be one of those short-shelf-life Wagnerians.

As the wounded leader Amfortas, Mattei projected agony backed by rich vocal color. The evil magician Klingsor can lapse into comic-book-gothic, but not with Evgeny Nikitin, who projected fallen-angel anguish. Rene Pape was vocally charismatic but interpretively dependable as the grail knight Gurnemanz.