THINGS TO SEE: Parsifal*

Richard Farnes conducts the Orchestra of Opera North in Parsifal. Photo credit Tom Arber

I was offered two free tickets in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion. 

Richard Farnes conducts the Orchestra of Opera North in Parsifal. Photo credit Tom Arber

The Sage in Gateshead is a monumental building. I’m not just on about its unique and prominent architecture: it houses some of the best talent in the North. So when they invited me along to see Opera North’s production of Parsifal, you can bet I leapt at the opportunity. I loved their production of Carmen (you can find my review for that here) and I can happily say I loved this too.

Now, to be completely frank, I didn’t really know what to expect from this production. Firstly, I didn’t know anything about the story behind the production. A quick bit of research informed me that this was the final opera from Wagner and is inspired by a medieval poem called ‘Parzival’ about the epic adventures of the knights who were responsible for keeping the Holy Grail protected.  It also contains a lot of links to the legends of King Arthur, which definitely appealed to me.

Secondly, it was a concert staging of the production and I couldn’t visualise how that would work. I didn’t know how they would manage to fully immerse us in such an epic story without staging, props and costumes but they really, really, really did. The talent on that stage did not need any extra ‘dressing’. I was completely swept up in the emotion of the actors as they built the narrative with just their bodies and their voices. My friend and I were both in awe of how captivating the story was as a concert.

Toby Spence, who sings the title role in Parsifal (pictured in Fidelio, 2020 at Opera North). Photo credit Richard H Smith

We were also completely in love with the talent of the phenomenal cast. From Toby Spence as the titular Parsifal and Katarina Karnéus as the enchanting Kundry, the cast dominated that stage from the second they stepped on to it. They performed with so much passion and emotion that I was immersed in the story of compassion, redemption and forgiveness.

The Chorus of Opera North performing Parsifal 2022. Photo credit Tom Arber

My absolute favourite parts however were whenever the whole chorus joined in. Paired with the orchestra, there was something very powerful and moving about so many people coming together to tell this story. You could feel the passion filling the space and was a wonderful reminder of how potent live music can be. There are very few things as magical as live performances like that.

Although a lengthy performance, I was fully immersed in this captivating opera. I have definitely become a bit of a fangirl for Opera North recently and this production of Parsifal only cemented it. I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Kelly x

P.S You can find out more about Opera North’s work here – I would highly recommend keeping tabs on their upcoming work.

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