Losing My Religion: The Whole Path to the New Parsifal

Describing his approach to this work, which certainly represents one of the highlights in the history of music and opera, Russian director Serebrenico said, “In fact, I wanted to say the idea of ​​freedom and mercy mainly through Wagner’s music.” The period preceding the production of Vienna. But Serebrennikow, who knows the extent of an individual’s involvement in art in all spheres of society and ruling political discourses, sees something very fundamental in this work, which has been defined as “a play of dedication on stage” and in the character of Parsifal.

“I love the path Parsifal takes and how it evolves along the way, how it starts from a very brutal moment when he killed a swan, and on his way, evolves into a person with deep values ​​who understands freedom and compassion,” Serebrennikow said in advance in a video call with the head of drama at the Opera House Sergio Morabito.

Serebrennikov was only able to make this editorial opera, which can also be read as “Parsifal,” with a faraway theatrical performance, as he still has to serve a suspended sentence in a politically motivated trial in Moscow with an ankle restrained. The fact that Serebrenkov cares more about the moral essence of “Parsifal” than an exaggeration of legends and epics of the knights is evident in his autobiography as an opponent and provocative to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Wr. State opera

Remote director: Kirill Cerebrenico

Political essence

Serebrennikow doesn’t want this staging to be understood as a link to his biography – yet at the same time he creates a scene from the first scene that makes the moment of captivity, and possibly even Grail Knights’ inner families, clear. Knowledge here is self-knowledge, liberation, and not the least, self-liberation, and so Jonas Kaufman also enters the captured Grail Knights company as a regular person, and having forgotten his name and his entire life, he must start searching for himself again.

KNDER, sung by Elina Garancia, will be the decisive key on this track. Their kiss in Klingsor’s magical garden becomes the key of knowledge for Parsifal. Parsifal detaches from his previous inner self, and “is defined by the motive of compassion”, he sets out on the path of his new inner freedom, through which he can ultimately heal and liberate the community of the Knights of the Cup around Amfortas (Ludovic Teze). The division of his person into “two avatars”, as Serebrennikow’s generation, who is used by others and his classes of psychoanalysis, is crucial to the development of Parsifal. Primarily, the symbolic characters help Kaufman and Nikolai Sidorenko (play the ex-Parsifal) to make the story vivid and understandable.

Scene from

Vienna Opera House / Michael Boone

He leads Parsifal (Jonas Kaufman) on “Seeing Compassion” through Kondri (Elena Garanka) and a double story, played by Russian actor Nikolai Sidorenko

Obstacles in the Wagner Musical Theater

For this path to liberation, Serebrennikow chose a special form of dramaturgy, in which he has to overcome the central weakness of this opera. As much as Wagner calls his form in opera “musical theater”, it is a stage of music, recognition motifs, transitions, and the display of music in all its bells as the de facto central material on stage. It is no coincidence that Latvian Elvis Hermannis defines the whole problem of opera in the last Viennese production of “Parsifal” with a simple awareness: “You have to try it with your eyes closed.”

Central roles

  • Amfortas: Ludovic Teze
  • Gurnemanz: George Zebenfeld
  • Parsifal: Jonas Kaufman
  • Klingsur: Wolfgang Koch
  • Kondri: Elena, Garanka
  • Then Parsifal: Nikolai Sidorenko
  • Titorelle: Stefan Cerny

Music and singing are so important that they seem to invite the director to do too much or too little. The introduction says everything that will happen in the next four hours – and Trophy Knight Gurnemans (George Zebenfeld) has one major mission in Chapter 1: Tell, Tell, Tell – to stimulate all storylines and create understanding of content. Dramatically it’s tiring.

The movie in one piece

Serebrennikow escapes that burden by draining a trilogy on stage and trying to play Parsifal’s motifs in three black-and-white silent films. Individuals and their bodies – and the stories imprinted on these bodies in the form of suffering, as well as popular myths, can be seen there. It is very clear that Serebrennikow is associated with the cult of tattoos in Russian prisons, which in itself represents a secret language no less than any language that defines the Knights of the Cup. From the very beginning, one can think of David Cronenberg’s fantastic movie “Eastern Promises” and decoding the messages on the human body.

“The Percival Affair”

In 2021, the Vienna State Opera will show Richard Wagner’s latest musical drama “Parsifal” on stage, directed by Kirill Cerebrenico, which connects the Grail community with the terrain of the Maison Centrale. With double morals and eroticism, faith and atheism, and eternal suffering and redemption, the great questions of the nineteenth century are addressed and reference is made to the claim to an artistic religion. Wagner’s Bühnenfestspiel, which was only initially allowed to be performed at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, captivates with its sacred and mystical soundscapes and a variety of dominant ideas. ORF broadcasts a very special version of the mega-work and offers insight into Wagner’s legendary universe.

The film on stage, which continues until the end, will make the division of Parsifal’s biography the topic of the session. Reality and dream, further development and the past are constantly intertwining rhythmically. Something like visual movement and correspondence for the suction and seduction power of Wagnerian music has already been found. And of course everything that happens in the films that happen or can happen in the spirit of this hero on his way to liberation.

Photo gallery with 11 photos

“A little religion, a lot of philosophy”

“Parsifal has nothing to do with religion but has a lot to do with philosophy.” President of the State Opera Bogdan Rusik is sure of this major opera: “Wagner is about freeing people from themselves, freedom from wrong ideas, cruelty, greed and anger. Perhaps it can be called freedom from false life , From attachment, strictly speaking, to selfishness. Strictly speaking, this is redemption. “

Roscic explains “Parsifal” in two minutes

“Wagner is about liberating man from himself, freedom from wrong ideas, cruelty, greed and anger. Perhaps it can be called liberation from false life, from attachment, strictly speaking, in selfishness. Strictly speaking, this is redemption.”

It might be upsetting, not least for some Wagnerians, he admits, to see the religious element being driven into the background in this opera, “but Wagner repeatedly expressed his intentions with this work very clearly:” “The dominant factor was compassionate morality Arthur Schopenhauer, who Through him Wagner found Buddhism. Wagner considered Buddhism to be the oldest and most pure form of the New Testament. One could say that Wagner’s “pure gate” passes through the bodhisattva life path, a being that seeks the highest knowledge.

In the beginning, Parsifal was cruel, only through Kondri’s kiss becomes “knowledge through compassion”: Parsifal abandons physical love and returns to the starting point on his path after the delusion – “and from there reveals that path to freedom through which other people in the play are not Are able. “

Scene from

Vienna Opera House / Michael Boone

This “Parsifal” is about to end with surprises

Unbiased in Wagner’s world

With Kirill Serebrenkov’s “The Parsifal Story”, as this production is called, one can go into the world of Wagner without in-depth prior knowledge and literally surrender to the production’s temptation, and last but not least, to Wagner’s music. The new musical director of the opera house, Philip Jordan leads the choir and orchestra of the opera house during nearly four hours in the afternoon and evening, and above all celebrates the entirety of the composer’s controversial and undisputed important work as set by Wagner. Last but not least, as Jordan explains during his introduction to the work, this harmony is one of the most successful, even greatest, in opera history.

Music director Philip Jordan starring in Wagner

Philip Jordan uses the example of harmony to explain why Wagner led after his time.

“From the distribution,” Parsifal “is the best result and the most shady. Wagner has always coordinated well.” In my opinion, he is the best, ahead of Strauss and Raphael, “says Jordan, who has praised above all for the seductive power of Wagner’s moves in designing the idea.


Parsifal can still be accessed for seven days on request via tvthek.ORF.at.

When it comes to the bell, Wagner says there are nuances like no other. “In terms of shading, it is a pioneer towards the finest areas and a model for Gustav Mahler and Claude Debussy,” says Jordan, who has also provided all shapes of definition and color design elements in great detail in advance. What Jordan remembers also in his introduction: many of the consensus syllables, right at the first thought in the introduction in a flat discipline, but also the choral syllables, which are often performed as a “roughly Gregorian” chorus – “It seems the simpler this often turns out to be the most. A challenge. “

The end of this opera may surprise the audience, especially the experienced Wagnerian. One must take the director’s words seriously and as a programmer: “So I neither want nor can I explain Wagner’s” Parsifal “- even though all of Wagner’s symbols appear in our production. Instead, I think true metaphysics takes place in real life.” .

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