At the heart of a very tough UK tour Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Opera were still able to offer Barbican audiences one fascinating performance that included Parsifal, the final opera by Wagner, and then Verdi’s Requiem rounding out the drama for the night. Gergiev did a wonderful job conducting the pit throughout each of the operas. His Parsifal went off without a hitch and at times it was easy to feel the pain that it was written with. Verdi was also offered but on a more compulsive note, but in the end it was a great way to counter the fire of the rest of the performance.
This was the third time that the performance of Parsifal was offered by the group this week and while you would think that this would make the performance somewhat dull, it was very impressive that the orchestra was able to make it sound fresh and live with the brass section really shining during this number. Despite the wonderful performance however, it was hard not to notice that the Wagner was a bit fatigued and routine and the idea to place the singers on the outer edges of the stage really made it hard for their voices to stand out among the score.
Some of the singers did still shine such as Nikolav Putilin who was able to bring an evil intensity to the voice of Klingsor that was missing from the singing of Gurnemanz which was performed from the young Yury Voroiev. Also disappointing was the forced tone of Amfortas sang by Evgeny Nikitin. On the other hand, mixed in were a few more performances including that of Kundry and Parsifal were tidy and poorly pronounced hurting the overall sound of the singers greatly.