Parsifal and Tristan

Friday 18th October 2019

Up the slope from Bayreuth Festspielhaus is a little neighbouring cottage with a vegetable garden, near the rustic beer garden and pizzas place we found this year. I did think: Hitler was not 100 metres from this simple scene, as was Mrs Merkel.

The Bayreuth Parsifal – who would have thought that the best way to treat Parsifal was as if it had actually happened just the other day in contemporary Iraq?  Amfortas and the Knights of the Holy Grail are some blood-loving sect walled up in a ruined church somewhere. Lovely colours too. It makes such a difference if you do Wagner in yellow-ochre and such shades with sunshine, rather than black or general murk. The Glyndebourne Meistersinger was the same. I haven’t know such a zing of horror in the theatre for a long time as when the Grail was revealed and Amfortas’s entire body somehow provoked into terrible general bleeding. We were mesmerised and thrilled. Musically outstanding in every way as well, even though the orch nearly ground to a halt at one point near the end, because, according to Anthony Mottram’s brother, the brass came in early. Plus the message finally was a little reductive; just anti all organised religion. They finish by handing in all their religious junk, opting instead of universal love of some kind.

But Bayreuth washes away all error.

Tristan was quite bizarre. Horrible black production, hideous to look at and incomprehensible. Isolde didn’t die at the end. General idea seemed to be to drag Tristan down and make it not about the things it’s obviously about. King Mark was a great singer, but required to be horrid and cruel. There was some idea Tristan and Isolde were merely specimens being observed. Couldn’t make head or tail of it. Or, put it another way, not inspired to bother. Petra Lang, as Isolde, really rather past it. I thought she was supposed to be utterly great. But that was some years ago. Time has flown. I hadn’t realised how much. Now she’s well over 50. Stephen Gould okay as Tristan. Huge great bear. Anthony and the others liked the last act. I liked the middle one with the actual love music. That was thrilling. Don’t tell anyone I said so, but Tristan is a bit of mess. All that complicated back-story in Act One. It’s been explained to me so many times but I can never grasp it. It would be much better if they just took the love potion and got on with it. Except it was Braners who swapped the death potion for the love potion, wasn’t it? Oh yes! I’d forgotten that. Anyway, the main idea is surely this intoxicating dangerous raving love brought on by the potion. We don’t really need 80 minutes building up to it and how Isolde’s got it in for Tristan  (why? can anyone remember?) and is insisting on a death pact. Although the general notion of love and death being intertwined in this romantic way is important. But Wagner should have thought of another way of doing it.

All this wrong with it, even Wagner himself. There was quite a lot wrong with him. But Bayreuth. The magic. The orch was sublime for this Tristan, which closed the Festival for 2019, in fact.

So we left Bayreuth, probably not for the very last time, and returned by car to Prague. In the Czech lands there was an incident. We stopped at a filling station. When Anthony Mottram started to rebuild the bloc after Communism, there were no filling stations, such as we know, that sell flowers and sweeties and have a café. One of the earliest things to appear after 1987 were beautiful sleek brand-new filling stations, fuelled by oil money. So you would have thought that Anthony Mottram, of all people, could be sure of an excellent reception in a filling station of his own creation. But no. Would the dug-in ex-Communist cafe lady open one of the milk bags openly displayed so he could have cold milk in his tea? No she wouldn’t. Those bags were for the coffee machine only. For no other purpose could they serve. Furious, Anthony Mottram sought revenge. After warm-milk tea (loathed) he carefully placed his soggy tea-bag right in the middle of her cleanest shelf nearest the window where all could see it. We drove on.

At the car-hire return station, Anthony said, ‘What about that dent the car had when we picked it up? If it’s not still there we’ll have to put it back.’

Why were these People Specially Graphed by an Offical Bayreuth photographer

Why were these People Specially Graphed by an Offical Bayreuth photographer?

Another Selected for Official Photo. But Good Variation on Men's Evening Wear, don't you Think?

Another Selected for Official Photo. But Good Variation on Men’s Evening Wear, don’t you Think? I would Much Reduce the Slacks of course. Make them Stretch Skinny

Good Youthful Wagner Wear Here

Good Youthful Wagner Wear Here – More in the Stretch Skinny Line 

Enfant Given Early Wagner Start

Enfant Given Early Wagner Start


Posted Friday, October 18, 2019 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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