Parsifal nears

The houselights have not seen their full illumination as of yet but we’re moving closer and closer to the opening night and welcoming an audience into this gorgeous theater which is the Teatro Liceu in Barcelona. We have just over 2 weeks until the first performance, however, things are starting to get more intense. The rehearsal schedule has become more demanding in some ways as the eyes have become more discerning and the ears more fine tuned. So much has to be corrected, re-worked, viewed from different angles, and heavily critiqued in order to bring the best production possible to the stage. “Parsifal” is a very long opera (and truly, one of my favorites). There are long scenes, if this were just a staged play, that would be nothing more than long monologues. However, in an opera, we must grip the audience not only with our acting, but while singing incredible (and difficult) music. The orchestration is intense at times. Working on demanding sets is always a challenge but perhaps even more so as they revolve. I think this is one reason why I appreciate Wagner’s concept of “Gesamtkunstwerk” so much. In addition to being a great composer, he also was an incredible “man of the theater”. It is an honor to sing the role of Amfortas, to feel his pain and anguish, and to allow the redemption he experiences to flood the body and soul. Wagner’s music fills you with great emotion and passion. It is certainly nearly overwhelming at times. With all of this flooding through you, it is imperative to keep your wits about you at all times. Hence, we rehearse and relish our days immersed in this masterpiece.

The Teatro Liceu is an incredibly beautiful theater. It has a long and rich history. However, it is fascinating to note that what is seen by the public’s eyes is so very new. The theater suffered complete and total destruction back in 1994 when a fire raged in January of that year. There was nothing left of the great venue that had seen so many important performances for over a century. In fact, it is believed that this is the first theater to have presented “Parsifal” outside of Bayreuth. But the architects and builders did a masterful job of rebuilding this incredible monument to art. The detail is exquisite and it is an honor to again gaze upon such craftsmanship. I often wonder why more of our modern theaters haven’t been built with such care towards beauty and design.

The weather has returned to being gorgeous after a few weeks that were a bit chillier. We’re to be in the mid 60s much of this weekend which is cherished. When I read about the storms that have continued to plague so much of the U.S.A., I am grateful to see the sun so abundantly here in Spain. I’m just hoping that things will be thawed out in Pennsylvania by the time I get back there next month--and I’m greatly looking forward to some time back on the home turf.