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“Barenboim is always most impressively heard in works of the grandest, most soul-searching kind – and he meets splendidly this most formidable challenge of all,” wrote Gramophone when this Parsifal, recorded in the famous Jesus-Christus Kirche with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, was released in 1991.
Siegfried Jerusalem is golden-toned in the title role, Waltraud Meier proves why she was the defining Kundry of her era and, as Amfortas, José van Dam suffers with the utmost nobility.
Richard Wagner’s Parsifal
First seen in 1882, Wagner’s final masterpiece was written specifically for the space and acoustics of the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, where it was meant to be performed exclusively. The Met presented the first staged production outside Bayreuth in 1903. With a score of magnificent subtlety and beauty and a story that blends the legend of the Holy Grail with Christian imagery, Buddhist ideas, and 19th-century European philosophy, Parsifal is a unique work that transcends the boundaries of the standard repertoire. “Parsifal is not just an opera—it’s a mission,” says François Girard, who directed the Met’s acclaimed 2013 production. “At the end of his life, Wagner was trying to reconcile all the aspects of his spirituality. It’s a sacred piece in the history of music.”
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