New "Parsifal" is "powerful journey" for all: director

Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:44pm EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Director Stephen Langridge knows MTV video clips tend to have mass appeal and Wagner operas do not, but he thinks anyone can be moved by his new production of "Parsifal", opening at London's Covent Garden on Saturday night.

In the second act, New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill as Wagner's "pure fool" of the title must resist the seductive lures of German soprano Angela Denoke's witch and temptress Kundry. She wraps herself around him and pleads that uniting with her for just one hour "would raise you to a godhead".

It's a classic - and sexy - confrontation between good and evil which Langridge, a believer in "music theatre", says gets an extra charge from some of Wagner's most magnificent music.

"Anybody who comes to see 'Parsifal' is in for a powerful journey which will shake up all sorts of emotions and corners of their subconscious, almost without their knowing it," he told Reuters during a rehearsal for this last Wagner production by the Royal Opera in the composer's birthday bicentenary year.

"It's the absolute antithesis of MTV, where you are battered with fabulous imagery for three minutes - and which I kind of enjoy, actually," he said.

"It explores some of the very raw areas which most of us experience in our lives ... It delves deep within us and I find it inescapable, and that's not always comfortable."

The up-and-coming Langridge, 50, son of the late British tenor Philip Langridge, is taking over this year as artistic director of the opera in Gothenburg, Sweden, which he calls his "first job".

The production features Canadian tenor Gerald Finley as Amfortas, the Grail king who suffers from a never-healing wound inflicted when he fell prey to Kundry's seductions.