Parsifal Production at the Bayreuth Festival

"Bayreuth’s special and much praised acoustic is actually only fully functional in Parsifal. It is certainly also one of the reasons why Wagner uses a style that is far closer to chamber music for this work. In the earlier pieces, composed for other stages, but also in the Ring, which elaborates far denser structures than Parsifal, and especially in Die Meistersinger too, one is aware that the Bayreuth acoustic is by no means ideal since it blurs the contrapuntal element of these works."
Hartmut Haenchen

 

Parsifal (1882)

Hermann Levi

Franz Fischer (Conductor)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Richard Wagner (Conductor)

Parsifal (1883)

Franz Fischer (Conductor)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1884)

Franz Fischer (Conductor)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1886)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1888)

Felix Mottl (Conductor)

Parsifal (1889)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1891)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1892)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1894)

Hermann Levi (Conductor)

Parsifal (1897)

Felix Mottl (Conductor)

Anton Seidl (Conductor)

Parsifal (1899)

Franz Fischer (Conductor)

Parsifal (1901)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1902)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1904)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Michael Balling (Conductor)

Parsifal (1906)

Michael Balling (Conductor)

Franz Beidler (Conductor)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1908)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Michael Balling (Conductor)

Parsifal (1909)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Siegfried Wagner (Conductor)

Parsifal (1911)

Michael Balling (Conductor)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1912)

Michael Balling (Conductor)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1914)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1924)

Wilibald Kaehler (Conductor)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1925)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Wilibald Kaehler (Conductor)

Parsifal (1927)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1928)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1930)

Karl Muck (Conductor)

Parsifal (1931)

Arturo Toscanini (Conductor)

Parsifal (1933)

Richard Strauss (Conductor)

Parsifal (1934)

Franz von Hoesslin (Conductor)

Richard Strauss (Conductor)

‘It is not I who conducts Parsifal faster but rather you in Bayreuth who have got slower and slower. Believe me, what you are doing in Bayreuth is all wrong.’
Richard Strauss

Parsifal (1936)

Wilhelm Furtwängler (Conductor)

Parsifal (1937)

Wilhelm Furtwängler (Conductor)

Parsifal (1938)

Franz von Hoesslin (Conductor)

Parsifal (1939)

Franz von Hoesslin (Conductor)

WW2

Early war production. Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-L04352 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Parsifal (1951)

(Conductor): Hans Knappertsbusch 

Stage director: Wieland Wagner

Parsifal (1952)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Penelope Turing, what was the first performance you saw here in Bayreuth?

It was Rheingold. That year, in 1952 I only saw the Ring, the Wieland Wagner production. The style was entirely new to everybody in those days. The simplicity, the grouping, and the acting. Wieland had a gift of getting acting out of his singers. And he would never have an unnecessary move. Every movement meant something. The same way with the voice and the singing. This was something completely new.

What did Wieland’s stagings look like?

What I didn't like was the darkness. Wieland's early productions were very dark. You got wonderful effects like statuary groups of figures. One remembered them for years. He had practically no money to do it with, and very little scenery. There was just the bare stage, sometimes one or two striking pieces of scenery, and then what they in those days called the cyclorama, which was the back where he had wonderful colour effects. I remember well the Siegfried of that year – a completely bare stage. Brünnhilde had been put to sleep at the top, on the horizon line, as it were, of the stage. Siegfried comes up … you see this figure coming up, standing and looking around. The back was dawn. It was sunrise, there came the flash of those colours, and gradually getting paler and paler and yellow and then into bright blue. It was the black ground and it was the figure and it was Siegfried and the awakening of Brünnhilde. "Heil dir, Sonne!" meant something in those conditions.

Penelope Turing is the author of New Bayreuth. She saw every single production in Bayreuth since WW2, and she reported from the Bayreuth Festival almost every year since 1952.

 

Parsifal (1953)

Clemens Krauss (Conductor)

Parsifal (1954)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1955)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1956)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1957)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Andre Cluytens (Conductor)

Parsifal (1958)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1959)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1960)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1961)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1962)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1963)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1964)

Hans Knappertsbusch (Conductor)

Parsifal (1965)

Andre Cluytens (Conductor)

Parsifal (1966)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Parsifal (1967)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Parsifal (1968)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Parsifal (1969)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1970)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Pierre Boulez returned to conduct Parsifal, giving his well known light-footed, technically brilliant reading of the score. Apart from Böhm's Tristan this was the conducting tour de force of the festival, and yet - one misses something. The undertones of faith seem lacking.
(Penelope Turing: New Bayreuth)

 

 

 

Parsifal (1971)

Eugen Jochum (Conductor)

Parsifal (1972)

Eugen Jochum (Conductor)

Parsifal (1973)

Eugen Jochum (Conductor)

Parsifal (1975)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Hans Zender (Conductor)

Parsifal (1976)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1977)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1978)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1979)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1980)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1981)

Horst Stein (Conductor)

Parsifal (1982)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1983)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1984)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1985)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1987)

Daniel Barenboim (Conductor)

Parsifal (1988)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1989)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1990)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1991)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1992)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1993)

James Levine (Conductor)

Parsifal (1994)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (1995)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (1996)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (1997)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (1998)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (1999)

Giuseppe Sinopoli (Conductor)

Parsifal (2000)

Christoph Eschenbach (Conductor)

Parsifal (2001)

Christian Thielemann (Conductor)

Parsifal (2004)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Parsifal (2005)

Pierre Boulez (Conductor)

Parsifal (2006)

Adam Fischer (Conductor)

Parsifal (2007)

Adam Fischer (Conductor)

 

Parsifal (2008-2012)

Conductor Daniele Gatti, Philippe Jordan (2012)
Production Stefan Herheim
Stage design Heike Scheele
Costumes Gesine Völlm
Dramaturgy Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach

Cast 2008

Amfortas Detlef Roth
Titurel Diógenes Randes
Gurnemanz Kwangchul Youn
Parsifal Christopher Ventris
Klingsor Thomas Jesatko
Kundry Mihoko Fujimura
1. Gralsritter Arnold Bezuyen
2. Gralsritter Friedemann Röhlig
1. Knappe Julia Borchert
2. Knappe Ulrike Helzel
3. Knappe Clemens Bieber
4. Knappe Timothy Oliver
Klingsors Zaubermädchen (Flower Maidens) Julia Borchert, Martina Rüping, Carola Guber, Anna Korondi, Jutta Maria Böhnert, Ulrike Helzel Atala Schöck
Altsolo Simone Schröder
Stuntman Matthias Schendel

 

 

Parsifal (2016)

Conductor: Hartmut Haenchen
Stage director: Uwe Eric Laufenberg

Selected reviews and comments

Uwe Eric Laufenberg: Parsifal/Bayreuth

Foto: Enrico Nawrath/Bayreuther Festspiele

 

 

 

Main source: Wagnermania.com, Bayreuther Festspiele, Per-Erik Skramstad

 

Timings Parsifal Vorspiel / Prelude Act 1

10'12" Herbert Kegel, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, 1978
10'23" Gustav Kuhn, Tiroler Festspiele, 2006
10'27" Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth, 1970 (Deutsche Grammophon)
11'03" Christian Thielemann, recorded at Staatsoper, Wien in June 2005 (Deutsche Grammophon)
11'05" Bruno Walter, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (From the Album Orchestral Music - Beethoven, L. Van / Mendelssohn, Felix / Weber, C.M. Von (Studio Recordings - 1920's and 30's, Vol. 1) (Walter) (1924-1927))
11'25" Bernard Haitink, Opernhaus Zürich, April 2007 (DVD)
11'26" Horst Stein, Bayreuth, 24 June - 15 July 1981 (DVD)
11'35" Erich Leinsdorf, SWR Sinfonieorchester (No year)
11'40" Kent Nagano, Baden-Baden, 6 and 8 August 2004 (DVD)
11'50" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1958
11'56" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1963
11'57" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1962
12'00" Hartmut Haenchen, Amsterdam, 1993
12'00" Hartmut Haenchen, Paris, 2008
12'03" Armin Jordan (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Parsifal film, 1982)
12'03" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1964
12'05" Herbert Von Karajan, Wiener Staatsoper 1961
12'07" Clemens Krauss, Bayreuth, 1953
12'07" Hartmut Haenchen, Copenhagen, 2012
12'07" Jun Märkl, Semperoper Dresden, 19.Februar 2006
12'08" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1959
12'08" Hartmut Haenchen, Brüssel, 2011
12'15" Jaap van Zweden, Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Concert performance.
12'15" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1960
12'24" Philippe Jordan, Bayreuth 2012
12'31" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1961
12'32" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1956
12'41" Valery Gergiev, Marinski Orchestra 2010 (Marinskilabel)
12'47" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1957
12'47" Daniele Gatti, Metropolitan Opera, 2 March 2013, live on BBC Radio 3
12'59" Felix Mottl, Freiburg, 1907, piano roll
13' Richard Wagner, Bayreuth, 25 December 1878 (Voss: Die Dirigenten der Bayreuther Festspiele)
13'03" Otto Klemperer, Philharmonia, 1960
13'06" Arturo Toscanini, NBC Symphony, 1940
13'15" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1952
13'18" Daniele Gatti, Bayreuth, 2010 (Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production). In 2008 Gatti conducted the prelude one minute slower.
13'29" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 1954 (Melodram release timing. Seven Seas has 13'15" and Tara 13'35")
13'47" Daniel Barenboim, Berliner Philharmoniker, 1989-90. Available on Daniel Barenboim: Complete Wagner Operas (34 CD)
13'51" Reginald Goodall (EMI - 1984)
13'53" Hans Knappertsbusch, Berlin, 1943
13'57" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, 31 July 1951
13'59" Fritz Busch, Buenos Aires, 1936
14'03" Wilhelm Furtwängler, Berlin, 1938
14'13" Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth, July-August, 1951
14'14" Herbert von Karajan (1981, Deutsche Grammophon)
14'18" Fritz Reiner, New York, 1938
14'20" Daniele Gatti, Bayreuth, 2008. Premiere of Stefan Herheim's Parsifal production. Two years later, Daniele Gatti conducted the prelude one minute faster.
14'30" Richard Wagner, Munich, 12 November 1880
15'06" Arturo Toscanini, London, 1935
15'30" Artur Bodanzky, New York, 1938
15'35" Rudolf Kempe, Wiener Philharmoniker, 1958 (Seraphim). Concert ending.
15'53" Karl Muck, Berlin, 1927
16'23" James Levine, Bayreuth, July/August 1985
16'38" Erich Kleiber, New York, 1946

Sources: Jonathan Brown (Great Wagner Conductors), Per-Erik Skramstad, Hartmut Haenchen, Vic White, Pieter Berghs

 

 

Parsifal (complete) timings

3.38 Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth 1970
3.44 Clemens Krauss, Bayreuth 1953 (Jonathan Brown has 3.52)
3.49 Pierre Boulez, Bayreuth 1966
3.55 Hartmut Haenchen, Copenhagen 22 March 2012
3.58 Wilhelm Furtwängler, Milano 1951
4.02 Christian Thielemann, recorded at Staatsoper, Wien in June 2005 (Deutsche Grammophon)
4.04 Herman Levi, Bayreuth 1882
4.08 Michael Balling, Bayreuth 1904
4.10 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1962
4.12 Wilhelm Furtwängler Bayreuth 1936
4.15 Felix Mottl, Bayreuth 1888
4.17 Herbert von Karajan (1981, Deutsche Grammophon)
4.19 Anton Seidl, Bayreuth 1897
4.22 Siegfried Wagner, Bayreuth 1909
4.23 Fischer, Bayreuth 1882
4.23 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1952
4.25 Armin Jordan (Hans-Jürgen Syberberg's Parsifal film, 1982) (according to the cover)
4.27 Karl Muck, Bayreuth 1901
4.28 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1954
4.29 Kaehler, Bayreuth 1924
4.33 Hans Knappertsbusch, Bayreuth 1951
4.33 James Levine, Bayreuth 1990
4.42 Arturo Toscanini, Bayreuth 1931

Sources: Jonathan Brown (Great Wagner Conductors), Derrick Everett, Per-Erik Skramstad, Hartmut Haenchen.

"The Master has already composed Parsifal to be very slow, so one doesn't need to add to this by also conducting it slowly." (Richard Strauss to the orchestra during rehearsals)