I attended the Met's performance of Parsifal last night. It's the same production that's featured in the video with a fresh interpretation by conductor Peter Schneider that was impressive. Ben Heppner as Parsifal is as good as it gets. Waltrud Meier as Kundry was radiant, even after these many years. Her vocal quality, range and sensuality in the challenging second act were breathtaking. Rene Pape as Gurnemanz stole the show (as he always does) and Thomas Hampson as Amfortas played the wounded King with extraordinary emotional color. I agree with the previous poster that Jerusalem was sleepwalking and mugging throughout his video performance. Heppner, on the other hand combines a magnificent voice with a very believable stage presence, to the extend that I could perceive it from Row H of the Family Circle.
Schneider took the podium without the customary "Perp Walk" and applause. The house went completely black for a moment and out of the darkness came those glorious fist notes of the prelude. The tempo was so slow that a little voice in my head said "Holy sh*t, we're gonna be here until next week." However, Schneider won me over within moments. The packed house (3,800 including standing room) was sitting at the edge of their seats in anticipation for the entire 5 plus hours.
At the end of the marathon performance the audience didn't want to leave. The curtain calls continued past midnight.
Unfortunately, this was the last Met performance of Parsifal for awhile. It's not on next year's schedule. If you live within range of an opera company that can do it justice do yourself a favor and experience this incredible achievement live.
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