Wagner – Parsifal
Wednesday, April 17 7:30 pm
Tickets are no longer available online, but will be available to purchase on the door.Hallé Orchestra Sir Mark Elder (conductor) Nicky Spence (Parsifal) Michael Kraus (Amfortas) Gabor Bretz (Gurnemanz) Wagner – Prelude to Act 1 and Act 3 of Parsifal
For his final masterpiece, Wagner turned away from themes of power and romantic love towards the sacred realm, aiming to compose a work in which ‘the most sublime mysteries of the Christian faith are openly presented on stage’. His ‘festival play of consecration’ re-tells the ancient story of Parsifal, a ‘holy fool’ made wise through pity and redeemed by a simple act of compassion. Act III is the spiritual heart and emotional climax of the work, as Parsifal fulfils his journey towards understanding. After a solemn orchestral prelude to represent the turmoil from which the world must be saved, there follow two scenes of redemption. In the first, Parsifal shares his own transformation with Kundry by baptising her; in the second, he heals the wounds of Amfortas. Between the two scenes, the famous Good Friday Music celebrates the day on which the world is renewed – a moving paean to the beauty of nature that sees springtime as a reflection of the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Day. The work ends with an unforgettable chorus, a symbolic joining of earth and heaven, as boy trebles join a massed chorus while a white dove descends. ‘The hero’s path to compassion and understanding can be a metaphor’ says Pope Francis, ‘to better understand how human beings understand themselves today.’
Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé are second-to-none in this music. Their 2013 Proms performance was described by The Guardian as ‘a constant wonder’ and by The Spectator as ‘miraculous’, while for The Daily Telegraph he and the orchestra found the ‘spiritual halo’ and ‘all the essential pain and anguish’ of the work. Heard in York Minster during Holy Week, this will surely be an unforgettable performance.
‘Elder’s single-minded patience creates a powerful and quietly hypnotic sense of weary sadness, an entirely appropriate feeling of pale grandeur. He controls everything with ‘the surest of touches right up until a deeply moving account of the final bars, and his orchestra are with him every second of the way, playing with sensitivity and feeling, as well as an impressive delicacy of timbre’ – Gramophone
As a result of Iain Paterson’s withdrawal due to illness, the role of Amfortas will be sung by Michael Kraus.