|Curtain call with Willard White, Rene Pape, Simon|
Angela Denoke, Gerald Finley and Robert Lloyd
I had never seen or heard Parsifal before - I don't believe in hearing to a musical masterpiece except live in a fine performance. Certainly the singing and playing was of exceptional quality. In addition to Simon we had René Pape as Gurnemanz, Gerald Finley as Amfortas, Willard White as Klingsor, Robert Lloyd as Titurel and Angela Denoke as Kundry. All of the stars were superb - if I had to pick out two in addition to Simon who was of course wonderful it would be Pape and Denoke - terrific roles sung superbly. Antonio Pappano was conducting and the music was wonderful although the tempi were possibly a bit on the slow side(?)
However the production was somewhat depressingly drab - Susannah as an artist was particularly disconcerted - and the idea that the Grail was a child in a loincloth who had to be cut was singularly perverse.
The behaviour of some members of the audience was depressingly awful. Two men near us were coughing loudly with little or no effort to muffle themselves - though we were able to get them handed cough sweets. During the first interval there was something approaching a scrum to get the pre-ordered drinks, with a rather un-gentlemany man sweeping chairs away from Susannah on the grounds that they were his, and a complete lout (probably a 5th rate "investment banker") who coughed straight into my face and when I told him to cover his mouth merely told me to "b…… off".
However the sublime music and singing nullified all these annoyances. It was also great to see Simon backstage afterwards - esp since Susannah hadn't been backstage before at the new house - and to meet René Pape. Simon's not singing in the UK until 30-31 May in Edinburgh (doing Mahler 8 which is how I first met him) and then the Galgolithic Mass on 30 Aug. But he's doing Wozzeck at the Met in March, Otello in Sidney and Houston and Florestan in Fidelo in Hamburg in November - catch him if you can!