Parsifal
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This discography is a personal survey of complete recordings of Wagner's 'Parsifal'.

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An introductory note:

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In the years since I first assembled this discography, so many complete recordings of Parsifal have become available that today it would be a significant undertaking for anyone to assemble a comprehensive survey. Therefore, although I shall make some additions to this list from time to time, I have no ambition towards completeness and it will remain selective. I hope that this personal survey will at least assist those who are overwhelmed by the choice of recordings to identify a few recordings with which to begin their listening.

Note regarding durations:

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n some cases I have timed approximate durations of individual acts in the recorded performances. Those durations, which give an indication of relative tempi, vary considerably. Here are some reference durations from Bayreuth performances:

stopwatch
Conductor Year Act 1 Act 2 Act 3
Levi 1882 1h47m 1h02m 1h15m.
Fischer 1882 1h50m 1h10m 1h23m.
Mottl 1888 1h46m 1h07m 1h22m.
Seidl 1897 1h48m 1h04m 1h27m.
Muck 1901 1h56m 1h07m 1h23m.
Balling 1904 1h46m 1h03m 1h19m.
Beidler 1906 1h48m 1h05m 1h18m.
S. Wagner 1909 1h49m 1h09m 1h25m.
Kaehler 1924 1h59m 1h08m 1h22m.
Toscanini 1931 2h06m 1h12m 1h30m.
Strauss 1933 1h46m 1h04m 1h18m.
Von Hoesslin 1934 1h44m 1h05m 1h18m.
Furtwängler 1936 1h52m 1h03m 1h17m.
Knappertsbusch 1951 1h56m 1h10m 1h21m.



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1936. Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires.

This performance was recorded on 22 September 1936.

Parsifal: René Maison
Kundry: Marjorie Lawrence
Gurnemanz: Alexander Kipnis
Amfortas: Martial Singher
Klingsor: Fritz Krenn
Titurel: Fred Destal

Conducted by Fritz Busch. Teatro Colón Orchestra and Chorus, Buenos Aires. Chorus master: Rafael Terragnolo,


Issued on CD: Ward Marston (info at marstonrecords.com).
Notes: Transcribed from the original discs by Ward Marston, who writes: The performance was recorded on sixteen- inch, aluminum-based, lacquer-coated discs. Using two turntables running at approximately 32.8 rpm, the recording covers sixteen sides. I have been told that the recording equipment was located in the basement of the Colón and that three microphones were used, one above the orchestra, a second above the front of the stage, and a third over the rear of the stage. Unfortunately, the operator of this equipment did not know how to adjust the three microphones properly to achieve a comfortable balance between singers and orchestra. Throughout the performance, the engineer constantly changed the sound level and switched microphones on and off seemingly for no reason at all. The singers are, therefore, not always as audible as one would like them to be.

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1938. Metropolitan Opera, New York

Live performance. Recorded on Good Friday, 15 April 1938. Broadcast direct on station WJZ.

Parsifal: Lauritz Melchior
Kundry: Kirsten Flagstad
Gurnemanz: Emanuel List
Amfortas: Friedrich Schorr
Klingsor: Arnold Gabor
Titurel: Norman Condon

Metropolitan Chorus and Orchestra, cond. Arthur Bodansky (acts 1 and 3), Erich Leinsdorf (act 2).


Issued on LP: The Golden Age of Opera, EJS 484, 1969.
Issued on CD: Myto 3CD 982.H013 3.
Notes: This is the only known recording of Parsifal with Flagstad and Melchior together, and the only recording of a performance in which Melchior sang the part without cuts. It also gives us a chance to hear the dark, deep voice of Emanuel List as Gurnemanz. This recording is, however, a necessary acquisition of the obsessive collector only. So little of the performance is discernible through the noise and distortion that as an aesthetic experience, listening to these discs leaves much to be desired and even more to the imagination. On first listening to its beginning, it is possible to imagine that one is listening to a herd of elephants stampeding, in a field covered in crumpled aluminium-foil, during a hailstorm. In the distance, muffled, an orchestra can be heard; the ear of faith can discern the prelude to Parsifal. Although the sound quality improves, there are still passages in this act and the subsequent acts in which, while it is possible to hear someone singing, what they might be singing and who the singer might be, is difficult to tell. There is a break of 10 to 30 seconds every seven minutes, when the acetate discs of the original were changed during off-air recording. Some of these breaks occur at unfortunate points, such that we lose for example Titurel's "Mein Sohn Amfortas, bist du am Amt?", the second and third lines of "Ich sah das Kind" and Parsifal's declaration that he will become the Grail King. These breaks (despite the performance being, it was claimed, note-complete), result in a recording that fits on three CD's.

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1948. Vienna

Live performance.

Parsifal: Günther Treptow
Kundry: Anny Konetzni
Gurnemanz: Ludwig Weber
Amfortas: Paul Schöffler
Klingsor: Adolf Vogel
Titurel: Hans Braun

Chor der Wiener Staatsoper, Wiener Symphoniker,
cond. Rudolf Moralt


Issued on CD: Myto 4MCD 954.136, 1995.
Notes: Moralt's conducting and the feeble playing of the VSO do not commend this recording. The singing is mostly good, although Treptow sometimes sounds like he is being strangled.

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1949. Cologne

Live performance.

Parsifal: Bernd Aldenhoff
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz: Josef Greindl
Amfortas: Heinrich Nillius
Klingsor: Robert Blasius
Titurel: Helmut Fehn

Cologne Opera, cond. Richard Kraus.


Issued on CD: Gebhart JGCD12, 2000.
Notes: Martha Mödl's first appearance in the rôle of Kundry, and very impressive she is too. The sound quality is very good for a historical recording. Unfortunately there is what sounds like a bad edit early on side 2.

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1950. Italian Radio

Live performance. Recorded 20 November 1950, Rome.

Parsifal: Africo Baldelli
Kundry: Maria Meneghini Callas
Gurnemanz: Boris Christoff
Amfortas: Rolando Panerai
Klingsor: Giuseppe Modesti
Titurel: Dimitri Lopatto

Italian Radio Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Vittorio Gui.


Issued on LP: Roger Franck FWR-648, 1966
Foyer FO 1002, 1981
Estro Armonico 55
MWC 101
Fonit Cetra LAR 41, 1984
Issued on CD: Melodram 36041, 1987
Virtuoso 2699232, 1989.
Notes: Sung in Italian and heavily cut. Maria Callas contributes a lyrical but dispassionate and detached interpretation of Kundry, which suggests that she was unable either to identify with or to understand this character.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1 (with deep cuts), 1h32m; Act 2 (some cuts), 54m; Act 3 (some cuts), 1h6m.

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1951. Bayreuth Festival

Live performances. Recorded July-August 1951, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Wolfgang Windgassen
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz:Ludwig Weber
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Hermann Uhde
Titurel: Arnold van Mill

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Decca LXT 2651-6, 1952
GOM 504-8, 1966; 411 786-1, 1966
Richmond RS 65001
London LLPA 10, 1952; A-4602
Issued on CD: Decca 425 976-2, 1989
Teldec 9031-76047-2.
Notes: Windgassen is a credible Parsifal and Weber is a highly (some might say, too highly) dramatic Gurnemanz. Mödl is an unsteady but committed Kundry in this performance, having some difficulties with her pitch, and not up to the standard of her recorded 1949 or 1953 performances. Compared against later Bayreuth recordings, the string sound is a little thin, and the chorus are not always together. There is significant stage noise and occasionally audience noise too.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h56m; Act 2, 1h10m; Act 3, 1h21m.

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1952. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded 1952, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Wolfgang Windgassen
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz:Ludwig Weber
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Hermann Uhde
Titurel: Kurt Böhme

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on CD: Archipel ARPCD 0112-4, 2003.
Notes:Like most of the live performances available on record with Kna conducting the Bayreuth artists, this recording is presumably taken from a live broadcast from the Festival. The singers are in general on better form than they had been in 1951 -- the cast is almost identical -- and the chorus is significantly more confident and accurate. The orchestra plays even better than they did in 1951.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h52m; Act 2, 1h10m; Act 3, 1h19m.

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1953. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1953, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Ramon Vinay
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz: Ludwig Weber
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Hermann Uhde
Titurel: Josef Greindl

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Clemens Krauss.


Issued on LP: Rodolphe Productions RP 12378/81, 1982
Melodram MEL 533, 1983
Issued on CD: Laudis LCD4.4006
Rodolphe RPC 32516.17, 1988
Arlecchino ARL-A21, 1996
Notes:
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h39m; Act 2, 56m; Act 3, 1h09m.

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1954. Metropolitan Opera, New York

Live performance. Broadcast direct on station WABC on 17 April 1954.

Parsifal: Set Svanholm
Kundry: Astrid Varnay
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Lawrence Davidson
Titurel: Lubomir Vichegonov (Vichey)

Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Fritz Stiedry.


Issued on LP: Melodram MEL 442(4), 1984.
Issued on CD: Adonis 54001, 1998.
Notes:An interesting performance with a strong cast. Hans Hotter is heard here in his prime, and Astrid Varnay is a strong and convincing Kundry. The other principals are not quite up to their level of excellence. There is a lyrical quality to the singing of minor roles, in distinct contrast to the more dramatic style that can be heard in recorded European performances of the same work in the same period. Fritz Stiedry's conducting is rather eccentric, with some passages taken so fast that the singers can hardly get the words out. There is a strange cut in Gurnemanz's narrative, after "uns'res König's Hut", down to "Vor dem verwais'ten Heiligtum". Perhaps the management thought that the audience would find out about Klingsor and his Flower maidens eventually, so why spoil the surprise by letting Gurnemanz tell us in advance?

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1954. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1954, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Wolfgang Windgassen
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz:Ludwig Weber
Amfortas: Hans Hotter
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: Arnold van Mill

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on CD: King Records 7 Seas KICC 2341/4, Golden Melodram GM 1.0053.
Notes: Watch this space.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h50m; Act 2, 1h11m; Act 3, 1h22m.

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1956. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1956, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Ramón Vinay
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz: Josef Greindl
Amfortas: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Klingsor: Toni Blankenheim
Titurel: Hans Hotter

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Cetra LO 79, 1979
Melodram MEL 563, 1982
Issued on CD: Hunt LSMH 34035, 1990
Arkadia CDMP 435.4, 1991.
Notes:
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h50m; Act 2, 1h8m; Act 3, 1h18m.

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1957. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1957, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Ramón Vinay
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz: Josef Greindl
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Toni Blankenheim
Titurel: Arnold van Mill

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on CD:Walhall WLCD0215
Notes:
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h51m; Act 2, 1h6m; Act 3, 1h17m.

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1958. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1958, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Hans Beirer
Kundry: Régine Crespin
Gurnemanz: Jerome Hines
Amfortas: Eberhard Wächter
Klingsor: Toni Blankenheim
Titurel: Josef Greindl

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Melodram MEL 583, 1981.
Notes:
Issued on CD: Golden Melodram GM 1.0058.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h46m; Act 2, 1h09m; Act 3, 1h13m.

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1959. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded 7 August 1959, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Hans Beirer
Kundry: Martha Mödl
Gurnemanz: Jerome Hines
Amfortas: Eberhard Wächter
Klingsor: Toni Blankenheim
Titurel: Josef Greindl

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Notes:Noteworthy for a powerful interpretation of Amfortas from Eberhard Wächter.
Issued on CD:Walhall WLCD 0295
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h46m; Act 2, 1h08m; Act 3, 1h14m.

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1960. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1960, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Hans Beirer
Kundry: Régine Crespin
Gurnemanz: Josef Greindl
Amfortas: Thomas Stewart
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: David Ward

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Melodram MEL 018, 1980,
Melodram MEL 603, 1980.
Issued on CD: Gala ???, 2000.
Notes: the perceptive Emma Albani, writing on rec.music.opera, comments on the CD issue as follows. Wonderful choral work, excellent flower maidens and good if not always together or really accurate orchestra. There is a great Kundry from Regine Crespin in her prime. T. Stewart also in his prime in an excellent Amfortas. That leaves Parsifal and Gurnemanz, Beier and Griendl. They know what they're doing but are not pretty sounding...

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1960. La Scala

Live performance. Recorded 1960, Milan.

Parsifal: Sándór Konya
Kundry: Rita Gorr
Gurnemanz: Boris Christoff
Amfortas: Gustav Neidlinger
Klingsor: Georg Stern
Titurel: Silvio Maionica

Chorus and Orchestra of La Scala, Milan,
cond. André Cluytens.


Issued on LP: Melodram MEL 437, 1984.
Notes:

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1961. Vienna State Opera

Live performance. Recorded Vienna, 1 April 1961.

Parsifal: Fritz Uhl
Kundry: Christa Ludwig (act 2),
Elisabeth Höngren (acts 1 & 3, opening scene of act 2)
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Amfortas: Eberhard Wächter
Klingsor: Walter Berry
Titurel: Tugomir Franc

Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Herbert von Karajan.


Issued on CD: Hunt/Arkadia KAR 219, 1990; Opera D'Oro 1998; RCA 74321-61950-2, 1999.
Notes:

This recording seems to be missing part of the first scene of this performance, for which an extract from another recording has been substituted. In this extract, possibly taken from a Bayreuth performance under Knappertsbusch, the voice of Gurnemanz appears to be that of Jerome Hines and that of Kundry is probably Martha Mödl.

Karajan's tempi are brisk. The recording has a strong "feel" of live performance, with a live acoustic; the temple choruses and Titurel sound distant. Otherwise the singers seem to have been closely miked. The orchestral balance is uneven, apparently due to the poor placing of too few microphones, and some of the woodwind instruments are almost inaudible. Karajan seems to have concentrated on beauty of sound, both from the orchestra and the singers. Even in passages where a more dramatic style would be normal, the singing is consistently lyrical. The strings seem to slide between notes rather more than is usual.

For reasons that have not been fully explained, but apparently by Karajan's decision (this production was under his complete control), the role of Kundry was taken by two singers. Elizabeth Höngren played the wild Kundry and the penitent Kundry; but the seductress was played by Christa Ludwig. In the long scene between Kundry and Parsifal, Ludwig gives an outstanding performance, and, unusually, all of the necessary tension of this scene is evident.

stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h41m; Act 2, 1h4m; Act 3, 1h11m.

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1962. Bayreuth Festival

Live performances. Recorded July-August 1962, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Jess Thomas
Kundry: Irene Dalis
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: Martti Talvela

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Philips 6729 002, 1964; 6747 250, 1976;
PHM 5-550 (mono) PHS 5-950 (stereo), 1965
Melodiya D 33809
Issued on CD: Philips 416 390-2, reissued as 464 756-2.
Notes: although Hans Hotter was past his prime, this is a very fine performance of the work and highly recommended. It is the only stereo recording among the many recordings from live performances of Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. This recording and the 1951 recording described above are the only "commercial" recordings among them and generally of better technical quality than those originating in radio broadcasts.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h47m; Act 2, 1h9m; Act 3, 1h13m.

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1963. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded 24 July 1963, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Wolfgang Windgassen
Kundry: Irene Dalis
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Amfortas: George London
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: Ludwig Weber

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on CD: Golden Melodram GM-10034, 1999.
Notes:
stopwatch Approximate timings:

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1964. Bayreuth Festival

Live performance. Recorded 13 August 1964, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Jon Vickers
Kundry: Barbro Ericson
Gurnemanz: Hans Hotter
Amfortas: Thomas Stewart
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: Heinz Hagenau

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Hans Knappertsbusch.


Issued on LP: Melodram MEL 643, 1984
Issued on CD: Hunt LSMH 34051, 1990; Golden Melodram 1.0004, 1998.
Notes: the 55th and last performance of Parsifal conducted by Kna at Bayreuth.
stopwatch Approximate timings:

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1966. Bayreuth Festival

Live performances. Recorded June-August 1966, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Sandor Konya
Kundry: Astrid Varnay
Gurnemanz: Josef Greindl
Amfortas: Thomas Stewart
Klingsor: Gustav Neidlinger
Titurel: Kurt Böhme

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Pierre Boulez.


Issued on CD: Golden Melodram 1.0037
Notes: A recording in good mono sound from a performance in which Boulez takes rather more relaxed tempi than in the 1970 recording (see below). Konya is a convincing Parsifal and Stewart a suitably agonized Amfortas. The weakest link here is Josef Greindl, who barks his way through the role of Gurnemanz. Unfortunately Astrid Varnay is past her prime here, with a tendency to shriek.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h39m; Act 2, 1h01m; Act 3, 1h09m.

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1970. Teatro La Fenice, Venice.

Live performance. Recorded 16 April 1970, Venice.

Parsifal: René Kollo
Kundry: Amy Shuard
Gurnemanz: Arnold van Mill
Amfortas: Hubert Hoffmann
Klingsor: Georg Stern
Titurel: Walther Hagner

Chorus and Orchestra of La Fenice,
cond. Heinz Wallberg.


Issued on CD: Mondo Musica MFOH 10411, 1999.
Notes: Why this has been issued is a mystery. Although the principal singers are adequate, Heinz Wallberg seems to be out of his depth in the score of Parsifal. He conducts most of the music quite fast, except for the prelude to the second act, which plods along at andante. The orchestra and singers must have had some difficulty following his beat, since the strings are sometimes out of step with the brass and the singers are often out of step with both. Both orchestra and chorus sound under-rehearsed. The mens chorus provide some vigorous singing in the temple scenes that suggests (perhaps not inappropriately) a rugby team after a hard game. The strangest thing about this recording is that the choruses in both the first act and the third act are sung in Italian even though the soloists sing in German.

The score has been disfigured by deep cuts. These include: in the first act, Gurnemanz's lines are cut from Drum blieb es dem ... down to the end of his narration, the next line being that of the squire, Vor allem nun: der Speer kehr uns zurück!; then, after the swan is brought on, from Sein Weibchen zu suchen ... down to Parsifal breaking his bow. Towards the end of the second act, Kundry's lines are cut from Nun such' ich ihn ... down to aus der ich büssend kaum erwacht; then the exchange with Parsifal from Kundry's Nie -- sollst du ihn finden! down to Parsifal's Vergeh', unseliges Weib!, so that the next line sung is Kundry's Hilfe! Hilfe! ; then her lines are omitted from Und flöhest du von hier ... down to so verwünsch' ich sie dir. In the third act, there is an enormous cut in Gurnemanz's part, from Ach, sie bedarf des Heiles ..., omitting Parsifal's cry of guilt, down to Nicht so!, resuming at Die heil'ge Quelle selbst. Thus Parsifal is never told that Titurel has died! These cuts, together with the fast tempi, shorten the music enough to fit on three CD's.

Despite the date given on the box, this recording seems to have been compiled from more than one performance, or at least more than one tape, since there are some clumsy edits (for example at so segne ich dein Haupt in act three). Therefore it seems hard to understand that some of the rougher patches of orchestral playing were included in the master, such as the wrong entry of a brass player (no doubt confused by the cuts) just before this at so sei er fleckenrein. The placement of microphones does not seem to have been given much thought; generally the orchestra is too loud in relation to the singers, and when the latter are upstage they are faint; the offstage choruses are barely audible and the voice from above can hardly be heard. The sound of the coughing audience, however, has been faithfully recorded.

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1970. Bayreuth Festival

Live performances. Recorded June-August 1970, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Jame King
Kundry: Gwyneth Jones
Gurnemanz: Franz Crass
Amfortas: Thomas Stewart
Klingsor: Donald McIntyre
Titurel: Karl Ridderbusch

Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra,
cond. Pierre Boulez.


Issued on LP: Deutsche Grammophon 2720 034; 217 004;
419 033-1, 1971
Notes: The work is ruined by a misguided conductor who takes many passages much too fast, thus shortening each act by ten minutes, and by the shrieking of Gwyneth Jones.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h34m; Act 2, 59m; Act 3, 1h06m.

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1971. ROH Covent Garden, London.

Live recording. Recorded and broadcast on 8 May 1971.

Parsifal: Jon Vickers
Kundry: Amy Shuard
Gurnemanz: Louis Hendrikx
Amfortas: Norman Bailey
Klingsor: Donald McIntyre
Titurel: Michael Langdon

ROH Orchestra and Royal Opera Chorus, cond. Reginald Goodall


Issued on CD: ROH Heritage Series ROHS012
Notes: Although it records what was in some respects less than a great performance, this is an important historical document from Covent Garden in the Solti era. There is some great singing -- Vickers alone justifies buying this set, McIntyre and Hendrikx are excellent, Bailey and Shuard very good, and the flower maidens are delightful -- but the performance is spoiled in places by quite inadequate playing in the pit. One does not have to listen to more than half of the first act prelude to realise that this was not a good night for the brass section, who continue to play out of tune for most of the first act. On the other hand, there is some fine playing from soloists in the woodwind section. Of the bells, perhaps the less said the better. Goodall was on this occasion as on many others tediously slow, taking nearly half an hour longer to deliver a performance than did Solti. This does not seem to matter in the outer acts but there are places in the second act -- slower even than those conducted by Toscanini in Bayreuth -- where I find myself thinking, "for goodness sake get a move on, Reggie!".
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h59m; Act 2, 1h18m; Act 3, 1h26m.

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1971-1972. Vienna State Opera

Studio recording. 7-17 December 1971 and 15-25 March 1972, Sofiensaal.

Parsifal: René Kollo
Kundry: Christa Ludwig
Gurnemanz: Gottlob Frick
Amfortas: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Klingsor: Zoltan Kélémen
Titurel: Hans Hotter

Vienna State Opera Chorus, Vienna Boys Choir, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,
cond. Georg Solti.


Issued on LP: Decca SET 550-4, 1973
London OSA 1510, 1973
Issued on CD: Decca 417 143-2
Notes: a remarkable feature of Kollo's interpretation is the drained, bleached tone he employs during the Good Friday scene in the last act. Although unattractive, it conveys the weariness and exhaustion of Parsifal, after ten years of wandering. This recording features a strong cast, also in minor roles; the flower maidens included Lucia Popp, Anne Howells and Kiri te Kanawa.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h51m; Act 2, 1h11m; Act 3, 1h18m.

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1975. Leipzig

Live performance. Recorded from a concert performance on 11 January 1975.

Parsifal: René Kollo
Kundry: Gisela Schröter
Gurnemanz: Ulric Cold
Amfortas: Theo Adam
Klingsor: Reid Bunger
Titurel: Fred Teschler

Leipzig Radio Chorus, Berlin Radio Chorus, St. Thomas' Choir, Leipzig, Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Herbert Kegel.


Issued on LP: Eterna 8 27 031-035, 1975.
Notes: Some reviewers have advised that this recording should be avoided. There are some people who like it, however, and if you like Kollo -- heard here in his brief prime -- then it might be worth a try. But it cannot be recommended as a first, or even as a second, recording. Brisk.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h35m; Act 2, 1h00m; Act 3, 1h06m.

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1979-1980. Berlin

Studio recording. Recorded 4-29 December 1979, 2-4 January, 15 April
and 1 July 1980, Berlin Philharmonic Hall.

Parsifal: Peter Hofmann
Kundry: Dunja Vejzovic
Gurnemanz: Kurt Moll
Amfortas: José van Dam
Klingsor: Siegmund Nimsgern
Titurel: Victor von Halem

Chorus of the German Opera, Berlin, and the Berlin Philharmonic Orch.,
cond. Herbert von Karajan.


Issued on LP: Deutsche Grammophon 2741 002, 1981.
Issued on CD: Deutsche Grammophon 413 347-2, 1984.
Notes: Hofmann's voice already shows signs of its imminent decline. Vejzovic is wobbly throughout. As compensation, Kurt Moll is a fine Gurnemanz and van Dam is probably the best Amfortas on record. Karajan allows the orchestra to get rather too loud, relative to the singers, in some passages, such as the flower maidens scene. As we can also hear in the earlier, live recording from Vienna, Karajan concentrated on the beauty of this music, at the expense of the drama.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h50m; Act 2, 1h9m; Act 3, 1h18m.

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1980. Bavarian Radio

Digital studio recording, Munich, 1980.

Parsifal: James King
Kundry: Yvonne Minton
Gurnemanz: Kurt Moll
Amfortas: Bernd Weikl
Klingsor: Franz Mazura
Titurel: Matti Salminen

Choir and Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio, Tölzer Knabenchor,
cond. Rafael Kubelik.


Issued on CD: Arts Archives 43027-2, 2003
Notes: This recently issued recording allows us to hear a remarkable performance in excellent sound. It is one of the best recordings of Parsifal issued to date. In gratitude to Arts Archives, I shall overlook the fact that the illustration that ends the first act of the libretto, in their CD booklet, was stolen from this web-site!
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h52m; Act 2, 1h7m; Act 3, 1h16m.

.

1981. Monte-Carlo

Studio recording. Recorded 29 June-3 July and 6-10 July 1981,
Palais de Congrès à Monte-Carlo.

Parsifal: Reiner Goldberg
Kundry: Yvonne Minton
Gurnemanz: Robert Lloyd
Amfortas: Wolfgang Schöne
Klingsor: Aage Haugland
Titurel: Hans Tschammer

Prague Philharmonic Chorus, Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra,
cond. Armin Jordan.


Issued on LP: Erato NUM 750105, 1982.
Issued on CD: Erato 2292-45662-2, 1990.
Issued on Videocassette: PAL/VHS ART 0P1.
Notes: although recorded for the soundtrack of the film by Hans Jürgen Syberberg, this recording is a remarkable achievement in its own right. Jordan gives a conservative and well-balanced interpretation of the music and the playing of the Monte-Carlo orchestra is acceptable. To this author at least, Armin Jordan's tempi feel right.
Emma Albani, writing on rec.music.opera, comments on this recording: Orchestra is not the best ever, though they play with feeling, chorus is massive and well recorded (important here) and if the soloists are not legendary, sweet sounding Goldberg, lively and vocally capable Minton and sincere Lloyd are all pretty competitive. Jordan has a flowing, objectivist approach ...
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h45m; Act 2, 1h7m; Act 3, 1h13m.

.

1981. Bayreuth

Live performance. Recorded July-August 1981, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Siegfried Jerusalem
Kundry: Eva Randova
Gurnemanz: Hans Sotin
Amfortas: Bernd Weikl
Klingsor: Leif Roar
Titurel: Matti Salminen

Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival, cond. Horst Stein.


Issued on laser disc: Philips PAL 070 410-1; NTSC 070 510-1, 1991;
in set CDV-509-517, 1991.
Issued on Videocassette: PAL/VHS 070 410; NTSC/VHS 070 510-3, 1991.
Notes: Horst Stein's conducting is pedestrian. Jerusalem is in superb voice, but Randova disappoints.

.

1982. Radio France.

Live concert performance.

Parsifal: Siegfried Jerusalem
Kundry: Leonie Rysanek
Gurnemanz: Kurt Moll
Amfortas: Bernd Weikl
Klingsor: Becht

Orchestre national de France, cond. Marek Janowski.


Issued on LP: HRE 412-2
Notes: A broadcast of an abridged performance given in the Parsifal centenary year.

.

1983. Budapest

Live performance. Recorded and broadcast on 13 February 1983, Budapest.

Parsifal: András Molnár
Kundry: Katalin Kasza
Gurnemanz: László Polgár
Amfortas: Sandor Sólyom-Nagy
Klingsor: András Faragó
Titurel: Ferenc Szalma

Chorus and Orchestra of the Hungarian Opera,
cond. János Ferencsik.


Issued on LP: Hungaroton SLPX 12784-88, 1985.
Notes: sung in Hungarian.

.

1984. Welsh National Opera, Swansea

Recorded 17 to 25 June 1984 in Brangwyn Hall.

Parsifal: Warren Ellsworth
Kundry: Waltraud Meier
Gurnemanz: Donald McIntyre
Amfortas: Phillip Joll
Klingsor: Nicholas Folwell
Titurel: David Gwynne

Chorus and Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera,
cond. Reginald Goodall.


Issued on LP: EMI 27 0178 3, 1985
Angel DS-3972, 1985
Issued on CD: EMI CDS7 4912-8, 1988.
Notes: Warren Ellsworth was, at the time this recording was made, lacking in the upper register, although in later performances at ENO and Covent Garden he gave a better account of the rôle. Goodall's tempi were notoriously slow. In this recording, the second act is unreasonably slow; it drags. The outer movements, however, seem to benefit from the broad tempi. Every detail is laid bare, and we can hear instruments (such as the harps at the very end of the work) where they are not heard in other recordings, and melodic lines that are usually lost in orchestral texture. An ideal recording for anyone who wants to study the music with the score in front of them.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h57m; Act 2, 1h23m; Act 3, 1h26m.

.

1985. Bayreuth Festival

Live performances. Recorded July-August 1985, Bayreuth Festspielhaus.

Parsifal: Peter Hofmann
Kundry: Waltraud Meier
Gurnemanz: Hans Sotin
Amfortas: Simon Estes
Klingsor: Franz Mazura
Titurel: Matti Salminen

Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival,
cond. James Levine.


Issued on LP: Philips 416 842-1, 1987
Issued on CD: Philips 416 842-2, 1987.
Notes: Soon after this recording, Hofmann redirected his career into that of a rock star. Simon Estes is an insipid Amfortas. The star of these performances was Waltraud Meier, whose intelligent penetration into the predicament of Kundry is an unprecedented achievement. But even Meier is not heard here at her best -- compare the Barenboim/Berlin recording listed below. Levine's tempi are close to those of Goodall in the outer acts, slightly less glacial in the second act. Levine does not bring out the detail of Wagner's orchestration as Goodall did, and for which we can forgive the latter his slow tempi -- Levine seems to be wallowing in, rather than illuminating, this music. He manages to make the second act as exciting as watching paint dry. Recommended for insomniacs only.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h59m; Act 2, 1h15m; Act 3, 1h24m.

.

1989-90. Berlin

Studio recording. Recorded December 1989 - March 1990, Jesus-Christus- Kirche.

Parsifal: Siegfried Jerusalem
Kundry: Waltraud Meier
Gurnemanz: Matthias Hölle
Amfortas: José van Dam
Klingsor: Günter von Kannen
Titurel: John Tomlinson

Chorus of the German State Opera Berlin and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,
cond. Daniel Barenboim.


Issued on CD: Teldec 9031-74448-2, 1991.
Notes: A first-class performance by a cast of distinguished Wagnerians. In particular, Waltraud Meier gives a highly intelligent interpretation of Kundry and is even better than she was on the earlier Goodall and Levine recordings. Siegfried Jerusalem is heard here while still in his prime. Once again, van Dam convincingly conveys the agony of Amfortas.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h51m; Act 2, 1h8m; Act 3, 1h17m.

.

1992. Metropolitan Opera, New York

Studio recording. Recorded April 1991 and June 1992, Manhattan Center.

Parsifal: Plácido Domingo
Kundry: Jessye Norman
Gurnemanz: Kurt Moll
Amfortas: James Morris
Klingsor: Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Titurel: Jan-Hendrick Rootering

Chorus and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera,
cond. James Levine.


Issued on CD: Deutsche Grammophon 437 501-2.
Notes: As with Maria Callas in the rôle of Kundry, Jessye Norman gives a lyrical interpretation that some might find lacking in drama. Domingo is in good form here and his much- criticised German is intelligible and acceptable. Levine's tempi are not quite as slow as in the live recording from Bayreuth, but still soporific.
There is also a Metropolitan Opera video, conducted by Levine but with some changes of cast: Siegfried Jerusalem, Waltraud Meier, Bernd Weikl and Franz Mazura.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h55m; Act 2, 1h12m; Act 3, 1h22m.

.

1997. Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam.

Live recording. Recorded and broadcast on 9 February 1997.

Parsifal: Poul Elming
Kundry: Violeta Urmana
Gurnemanz: Robert Lloyd
Amfortas: Wolfgang Schöne
Klingsor: Günter von Kannen
Titurel: Carsten Stabell

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera, cond. Simon Rattle.


Issued on CD-ROM: Opera Classics, 1999.
Notes: Despite a tiresomely static and conceptually inane staging, this production was redeemed by a musical interpretation at least as great as any the author has experienced.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h41m; Act 2, 1h6m; Act 3, 1h13m.

.

2009. Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Live recording of performances given between 5-13 June 2009 in the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Parsifal: Gary Lehman
Kundry: Violeta Urmana
Gurnemanz: René Pape
Amfortas: Evgeny Nikitin
Klingsor: Nikolai Putilin
Titurel: Alexei Tanovitski

Orchestra and chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre conducted by Valery Gergiev.


Issued on hybrid SACD: Mariinsky, 2009
Notes:As Gurnemanz, René Pape is everything a devotee of this opera could wish for. Up-and-coming heldentenor Gary Lehman is more than adequate in the title role, as those of us who have heard his interpretation of Tannhäuser had expected. I was overwhelmed by Violetta Urmana when I first heard her in the Amsterdam production (see above) and although she has now pushed up into soprano roles, she is still the best Kundry around at present (2009). This strong cast of principals is supported by an ensemble with a distinguished tradition of Wagner performances.
stopwatch Approximate timings: Act 1, 1h52m; Act 2, 1h7m; Act 3, 1h18m.

Right: Wagner conducting at the Vienna Musikverein, 14 March 1875.
RW conducting 14.03.75
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© Derrick Everett 1996-2013. This page last updated (corrected a small typo; added timings for Kna '54 and Kna '69) --- Thu 5 Dec 2013 22:10 CET ---.