Leopold Ludwig
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
30 November 1970
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
AmfortasWilliam Dooley
TiturelJohn Macurdy
GurnemanzCesare Siepi
ParsifalHelge Brilioth
KlingsorEzio Flagello
KundryRégine Crespin
GralsritterRod MacWherter
Robert Goodloe

But the zigzagging Metropolitan summoned its best forces, pulled itself together admirably, and on November 14 presented a new production of “Parsifal” which made it appear again, however temporarily, a great opera house. I would make only one negative criticism of the prevailingly good-looking, workable and satisfying staging by Nathaniel Merrill, with set and costumes designed by Robert O’Hearn: in the first scene of Act 2, Klingsor was isolated high above stage level in surrounding darkness, while Kundry remained equally isolated below, thus creating an effect of total separation between them. Otherwise, the visible presentation was a triumph. In the title role, Helge Brilioth (house debut) excelled in every way – if one did not demand the volume of a genuine Heldentenor: he did not confuse naiveté with stupidity, appeared noble without being unbearably stuffy and marked the character’s evolution by subtle gradations. Thomas Stewart acted Amfortas with touching conviction. As Gurnemanz, Cesare Siepi was a revelation and somehow managed to keep at the inescapable minimum the boredom inseparable from the character’s verbosity; he really sang the role rather than growling it and acted with touching conviction. Siepi articulated Wagner’s words (so I was told by those better acquainted with German than I am) as though born to them. Very far indeed from his renowned Don Giovanni, he now has a whole new career before him as a German bass. Ezio Flagello sang Klingsor with rounded tones, but failed to suggest any degree of malevolence. As Kundry, Christa Ludwig remained well within the framework most of the long evening (7pm.-midnight), screamed terrifyingly and clearly captured the attentive capacity audience. Nothing but good could be said of the minor roles, led by John Macurdy’s invisible Titurel. One could have enjoyed conducting three or four shades more vivid than that produced by Leopold Ludwig (house debut), but he did not elide any telling orchestral details. No neo-Bayreuth ‘modernization’, this “Parsifal” instead, a satisfactory adaptation of modern stage techniques to Wagner’s demands. The Gurnemanz-Parsifal trip from the forest of scene 1 to the temple of scene 2 was accomplished fascinatingly by front-curtain lighting.

Herbert Weinstock | 1/1971

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Fiori, OOA
Technical Specifications
160 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 305 MByte (MP3)
In-house recording
A production by Nathaniel Merrill (1970)