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Parsifal (1982)

Richard Wagner's last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one ... See full summary »

Director:

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg (as Hans Jürgen Syberberg)

Writer:

Richard Wagner (libretto)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Armin Jordan Armin Jordan ... Amfortas
Martin Sperr Martin Sperr ... Titurel
Robert Lloyd Robert Lloyd ... Gurnemanz
Michael Kutter Michael Kutter ... Parsifal 1
Karin Krick Karin Krick ... Parsifal 2
Aage Haugland Aage Haugland ... Klingsor
Edith Clever Edith Clever ... Kundry
Rudolph Gabler Rudolph Gabler ... Gralsritter
Urban von Klebelsberg Urban von Klebelsberg ... Gralsritter
Bruno Romani-Versteeg Bruno Romani-Versteeg ... Gralsritter
Monika Gärtner Monika Gärtner ... Knappen (as Monika Gaertner)
Thomas Fink Thomas Fink ... Knappen
David Meyer David Meyer ... Knappen
Judith Schmidt Judith Schmidt ... Knappen
Anahita Farroschad Anahita Farroschad ... Klingsors Zaubermädchen, Höchste und mittlere Höhen
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Storyline

Richard Wagner's last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one of the medieval epic romances of King Arthur and the search for the holy grail (the chalice touched by the lips of Christ at the last supper), it recounts over three long acts how a "wild child" unwittingly invades the sacred precincts of the grail, fulfilling a prophecy that only such a one can save the grail's protectors from a curse fallen upon them. Interpreters of the work have found everything from mystical revelation to proto-fascist propaganda in it. Hans-Jurgen Syberberg's production doesn't avoid either aspect, but tries synthesize them by seeking their roots in the divided soul of Wagner himself. The action unfolds on a craggy landscape which turns out to be a gigantic enlargement of the composer's death mask, among deliberately tatty theatrical devices: puppets, scale models, ... Written by Roger Downey

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

West Germany | France

Language:

German

Release Date:

May 1982 (West Germany) See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(3 parts)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Among the severed heads at the base of the broken phallus in Klingsor's castle (symbolizing the self-castration that gave the wizard his powers - this is one weird opera) are those of Karl Marx, Wagner himself...and Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher who was one of Wagner's most devoted champions until he broke with him over this very opera (he despised Christianity as a "slave" religion and thought Wagner had caved in to bourgeois morality). See more »

Connections

Version of Parsifal (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Visually stunning, if sometimes exhausting
22 June 2011 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

I love Wagner a great deal, but boy don't his operas take a lot of stamina to perform and I would be lying if I said they were easy to direct too. Parsifal is difficult to pull off effectively, and while it is flawed this production does commendably.

Where this Parsifal falls down is in the pacing. It is a lengthy opera, but in some ways the pace is very glacial here making the first act especially exhausting to watch on first viewing. Then there is some of the symbolism. I want to credit Syberberg for his work here, he is a clearly ambitious director and a lot of scenes are very well staged. This Parsifal is very visually striking too with wonderful costumes, sets and lighting particularly in Act 2 and there is some clever video directing, but as intriguing and as striking as the symbolism is, considering Parsifal is quite a symbolic work there were times when it got too much.

The cast are mostly very good. I wasn't however taken with Michael Kutter's Parsifal 1, he seems uncomfortable here. Faring much better though is Karin Krick as Parsifal 2, who is extraordinarily good. Of the cast for me the standouts are Robert Lloyd's superb Gurnemanz and Aughe Haugland's truly excellent Klingsor. Also Edith Clever is a very effective Kundry.

On a musical front I have nothing to fault this production. Then again, this is Wagner, all the haunting yet very beautiful motifs and lush orchestration are there. The orchestra perform this score wonderfully, and the conducting is adept without plodding too much.

Overall, a flawed production, but a good and interesting one. 7/10 Bethany Cox


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