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Operatic Holy Grail Marks Victorian Opera’s Biggest Production

January 16, 2019 Events Calendar No Comments

Premiering the state’s first staged production of Richard Wagner’s Parsifal will prove Victorian Opera’s biggest undertaking yet. A cast of 83 singers and 75 musicians will pack out St Kilda’s Palais Theatre when this masterpiece is presented in Victorian Opera’s new production, for three performances only on 20, 22, and 24 February.

Considered Wagner’s greatest achievement, audiences will be transformed by the transcendental power of his music in this operatic odyssey set against the mythology of the Holy Grail. The opera follows the prophesied journey of simple hunter Parsifal from ‘pure fool’ to saviour in a sacred world filled with noble knights, evil sorcerers and bewitching temptresses.

Parsifal is a mystical vision in sound: unlike anything else in music,” notes conductor Richard Mills, Artistic Director of Victorian Opera. “It is the distillation of Wagner’s mature wisdom: a profound exploration of love, both carnal and spiritual, suffering, redemption and salvation.”

Australian audiences will experience Wagner’s soul-enriching masterwork performed by a cast of the world’s most illustrious Wagnerian singers, making Victorian Opera’s Parsifal one of the most anticipated productions staged in Melbourne in 2019.

Revered German tenor Burkhard Fritz heads the cast in the title role. He is joined by a sterling line-up of internationally-acclaimed contemporaries including Swedish soprano Katarina Dalayman as shape-shifting seductress Kundry and English bass-baritone Peter Rose as Grail Knight Gurnemanz. The three have long been staples of the world’s best opera houses, including The Met and Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

Melbourne-born bass-baritone Derek Weltoncomes home to star as fallen Grail Knight-turned evil sorcerer Klingsor, a role which won him praise at the 2018 Bayreuth Festival. Baritone James Roser also returns to Australian shores to sing the role of Amfortas, ruler of the Grail kingdom, with much-loved baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes appearing as his dying father Titurel.

Leading Victorian singers round out the cast, featuring the Victorian Opera Youth Chorus Ensemble (VOYCE) and students from the University of Melbourne among members of the chorus. In their second major collaboration with Victorian Opera, The Australian Youth Orchestra will bring their typical vigour to the pit; continuing Richard Mills’ dedication to nurturing the next generation of Australian musicians.

Mills highlights: “This great cast, singers of wide experience in these roles, will bring an extraordinary dimension to these performances – which unite some of the world’s greatest singers with Victorian Opera’s wonderful ensemble and the vitality and energy of the Australian Youth Orchestra.”

Roger Hodgman directs a sleek, modern production designed by some of Australia’s most accomplished theatre makers; Christina Smith(costumes), Richard Roberts (sets), and Matt Scott (lighting).

Steeped in Christian and Buddhist philosophy, Parsifal is a reflection on compassion and resisting desire in the face of suffering. Wagner was reaching the end of his life when he created this extraordinary universe of sound to express his spiritual, philosophical and dramatic ideas; written and composed with great maturity and his utmost technical proficiency. His music is entirely entrancing; moving from solemn and sacred to luscious and sensual, and with moments of otherworldly beauty.

An odyssey in every sense, its 6-hour running time allows audiences to immerse themselves in Wagner’s richly imagined world and absorb the transformative experience. The opera’s three acts are interspersed with a sunset dinner break, with audiences encouraged to take in St Kilda’s bay views, and an additional interval.

One must experience Wagner’s Parsifal at least once in their lifetime, mark it off your bucket list this February.

Richard Wagner’s Parsifal

Palais Theatre, St Kilda

Wednesday 20 February, 4:30pm
Friday 22 February, 4:30pm
Sunday 22 February, 3:00pm

Sung in German with English surtitles
Running time is approximately 4 hours, plus one dinner break and one interval

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