Fresh back from a Easter Parsifal performance (review forthcoming), I figure it seems only (in)appropriate, on this Easter Sunday, to resurrect the two meandering 'Easter Pilgrimage bits' I wrote for WETA in 2008... which was a wonderful trip through Europe with the goal of getting as many Parsifal and Matthew Passion performances into a fortnight. (An unforeseen link: Attila Jun, then a Dutchman in Stuttgart, filled in this night as Gurnemanz.)
Easter Pilgrimage – Dutchman Detour
Classical WETA, Wednesday, 4.2.08
On the way from Amsterdam to Vienna, the Easter Pilgrimage of Matthew Passions and Parsifals I also picked up two performances of less topically related Wagner works: The Flying Dutchman in Stuttgart and Tristan & Isolde in Vienna.
Of course, just about any Wagner opera can be made to fit Easter without straining too much, given the abundance of death through redemption and redemption through compassion (and more death). Senta and Isolde, the Dutchman and Tristan: Surely there is room in their stories to see (or force) analogies to “The Greatest Story Ever Told”.
This is certainly not what Calixto Bieito sees in the Dutchman for his new production at the Staatsoper Stuttgart. Instead, Bieito takes it to be an allegory of isolation in modern society, a critique of the economic system, consumer culture, and essentially a critique of a loss of values and morality. As expected, Bieito does this in his trademark brash, genital-touting style that sells out opera houses, enrages critics, and sends – especially North American – commentators into apoplectic fits of “Eurotrash” bashing. In doing so the culture-pundits often are guilty of precisely what they fault Bieito and his ilk with: They get stuck at superficialities, unable or unwilling