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Your reaction: Parsifal in cinemas

What did you think of Stephen Langridge's Royal Opera production of Wagner's final opera?

By Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products)

18 December 2013 at 11.18pm | 55 Comments

Act I

Act II


The cinema experience

A global audience

Transmission problems caused by bad weather

The Royal Opera’s production of Parsifal ran from 30 November to 18 December 2013.

The production is staged with generous philanthropic support of the Metherell Family, Roland & Sophie Rudd, Dr and Mrs Michael West, Marina Hobson MBE, Ian and Helen Andrews, Peter and Fiona Espenhahn, Annie Frankel, Malcolm Herring, Dr L Mikheev and N Mikheev, Lindsay and Sarah Tomlinson, The Wagner Circle and The Parsifal Production Syndicate and generously supported in memory of Simon Tullah.

By Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products)

18 December 2013 at 11.18pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged by Stephen Langridge, cinema, comments, Parsifal, Production, ROH Cinema, your reaction

This article has 55 comments

  1. Chris responded on 19 December 2013 at 12:43am Reply

    A superb production. Wonderfully well sung and acted, better even the recent excellent Met version.

  2. Watched at Hemel - a wonderful evening - Doneke outstanding

  3. John Richardson responded on 19 December 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    I bought 3 tickets to see Parsifal at Cineworld in Middlesbrough but, when we arrived at the cinema last night, we were told that the broadcast had been cancelled due to technical problems across the country and so was not being shown at any cinema as the problem was not specific to Cineworld Middlesbrough. Please can you explain or comment?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 19 December 2013 at 10:39am

      Hi John,

      Sorry to hear about the cancellation. Due to the weather last night we experienced some technical problems with the satellite feed and signal.

      We're exploring solutions to this with our satellite provider to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

      Apologies again,

      ROH Content Producer

  4. Bresciani Vito Luigi responded on 19 December 2013 at 8:16am Reply

    Is there any plan to put such a magnificent performance on DVD? Lucky folks who could enjoy it, but only once! And all other people who missed it?????

  5. U Winter responded on 19 December 2013 at 8:18am Reply

    Neon light, hospital scenery, guns, glittering blonds in Klingsor's very bland and cold garden do not represent the deep meaning of Parsifal and are disturbing. Orchestra and singers fantastic, wonderful and first class.
    thanks to cinema transmissions (great initiative) I watched P. in Gavirate Italy.

  6. bernardo responded on 19 December 2013 at 8:27am Reply

    Desde Salamanca ( Spain) La primera parte estuvo bien, la segunda y la tercera parte fueron aburridas y monotonas.
    Los cantantes bien sin excesos
    la puesta en escena de la opera fue horrorosa, aburrida y poco imaginativa, y como siempre sacada fuera de contesto ¿ donde estaba el castillo ?
    lo de la caja y la camilla de hospital de muy mal gusto

  7. Interesting to read that we were not alone, in Chateauroux, in having the transmission breaking up. Was it the storms? What can be done to prevent a repetition?

  8. Bryan Simmons responded on 19 December 2013 at 9:56am Reply

    Mu.sic and singing superb, staging ridiculous:
    Technical quality abysmal. 100 dropouts in Act 1, Act started to get better then died completely. The staff at Wiltshire Music Centre deserve a huge apology from you.
    When it was working the lip sync is wrong sound out of step with picture

    • Chris Lewis responded on 19 December 2013 at 2:02pm

      After the technical failure in the first half of Act 2 of Parsifal at Wiltshire Music Centre last night, most of the audience left. Those of us who stayed were treated to a technically perfect remainder of Act 2 - by far the best part of the performance and a perfect Act 3.

  9. James Lee responded on 19 December 2013 at 9:58am Reply

    What was The ROH thinking??? A Parsifal who looked like an unemployable slob from a sink council estate and a set that placed several layers of incomprehensible garbage between Wagner and the audience! Am I alone in thinking that only the orchestra deserved their fees? If I am, then I clearly need to avoid The ROH and its 'updated' productions. In summary...truly awful!

    • david thorpe responded on 19 December 2013 at 6:09pm

      James Lee is if anything mild in his comments. This 'production' was a complete farrago - dull, monchrome, with hideous grey costumes and sets, and was completely inaccurate in its portrayal of key events, such as the spear episode. How the semi-naked child treatment ever got past Health and Safety is beyond belief. The whole thing was a disgrace.

  10. David Neild responded on 19 December 2013 at 10:19am Reply

    My daughter and I would have loved to see it screened to a cinema in Bradford - but the screen was blank. Cinema manager was - blank!
    Apparently other cinemas had problems, WHY?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 19 December 2013 at 10:38am

      Hi David,

      Sorry to hear about this. Due to the weather last night we experienced some technical problems with the satellite feed and signal.

      We're exploring solutions to this with our satellite provider to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

      Apologies again,

      ROH Content Producer

    • David Neild responded on 19 December 2013 at 11:47am

      Bad weather affected most of the UK last night but not everyone experienced poor cinema streaming.
      We have booked to see Turandot 'live' at ROH next year, perhaps a free program?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 21 December 2013 at 8:31pm

      Dear David

      Sorry that you were affected by the problems. Do speak to the cinema to see if they are able to offer you anything.

      Best wishes


  11. John Sims responded on 19 December 2013 at 10:31am Reply

    Seeing it at a cinema in Norwich, unlike James Lee I found the production austerely beautiful and very thought-provoking. My full thoughts on it would take up too much space. My criticism of the transmission is that the camera movements were often distracting and too often concentrated on individual close-ups to the detriment of the whole stage picture. This was particularly so at the very end when the concentration on Amfortas and Kundry deprived us of any view of what Parsifal was doing and the final shot from the side did not show whar was happening in the Grail box, which was surely intended to be the climax of the whole production - very disapppinting. Anything to do with what I understand to have involved a flash of male nudity?

  12. Laurence Cole responded on 19 December 2013 at 10:35am Reply

    Thought I didn't 'do' Wagner. Now know I do. Wept from start to finish - a truly mesmerising and cathartic experience - feel drained today. The music and singing are of such glory and power one just gives oneself up to them. Shame about Parsifal's pot-belly and pyjamas, though. Couldn't they have gone to M & S?

  13. wendy lorelli responded on 19 December 2013 at 11:27am Reply

    i don t appreciate the first act, that seems to be a refers to nazism.. it is an insult to wagner, wagner is wonderful and his music is a form of ecstasy and a form of sensorial paradise... wagner is totally different from any form of nazism.. i don t like costumes and scenografy but the cast was great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! beautiful operaa! by wendy from italy

  14. Stephen Webster responded on 19 December 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

    Magnificent and deeply moving.

    Shame about technical blips.

    Wonderful singing, acting and orchestra.

    Grail image - a stroke of genius.

  15. Saw it at the Opera House a couple of weeks ago and went to see it again locally. I dont tend to like modern staging but this was fantastic. Special mention to the choir, I have never heard such beautiful singing.
    Small comments, opening overture and close up shots of Conductors face didn't do him any favours as he looked grumpy, Could have done with more long shots of stage rather than so much close up, some stage effects such as the 'cube' elevating totally lost in cinema. there were no subtitles where I saw it in Aylesbury - was this a local problem, they were fiddling with the settings but couldnt get them ?
    Overall 5 stars, keep up the good work, Happy Christmas to all the folks at ROH

    • Hi John,

      We'll try to find out, but chances were that it was a local problem - we were monitoring the feed off the satellite on our receiver here and they were working OK in all languages.


      Mark Thackeray
      Broadcast Engineer, Royal Opera House

    • John Sims responded on 22 December 2013 at 5:34pm

      When I saw it in Norwich there were no subtitles fpr the first 5 minutes. then a computer box came up on screen and someone clicked on English subtitles, after which they worked fine. There were a few small interruptions and distortions in the transmission but nothing serious - this sometimes happens in Met transmissions which I see in Aldeburgh and is inherent in the satellite system. The picture and sound were otherwise superb.

  16. Brian Clarke responded on 19 December 2013 at 12:36pm Reply

    Top Notch

    when you come out of the Picture House and astonished to find its 10.40. not one minute was lost, a fantastic performance,
    Brian Stratford upon Avon

  17. Robertus Antoninus responded on 19 December 2013 at 1:12pm Reply

    Watched it from Cineworld in Glasgow. Sublime! Strange that we only had 3 very short dropouts here yet cinemas closer to London had far greater problems. I suppose you have to hope for minimal cloud cover in your town on the day. I am surprised that no one has commented yet about René Pape (Gurnemanz) forgetting his lines during the Good Friday music - a famously sublime passage of the third act - I was really concerned he wouldn't recover the thread as I watched him shake his head in disappointment as he tried to recover the words at the correct part in the score. Thank goodness he managed it as it could have been a disaster!

    • Hi Robertus,

      It was the very heavy rain experienced last night across a large portion of the country (and, to a lesser extent, the high winds) that causes the problems. It is a common problem for satellite transmission, which at present is the only practical way for us to do these relays live to over 700 cinemas across Europe.

      If you are interested, take a look at which gives a fairly good overview of the problem, and of what our satellite providers were trying to do to fix it.

      We will be working with our providers to see what else can be done, but, sadly, last night's problems were down to the weather.


      Mark Thackeray
      Broadcast Engineer, Royal Opera House

    • John Sims responded on 22 December 2013 at 5:39pm

      I norticed Pape's memory lapse. Curious, as it was about the easiest line he has to sing in the whole dramja; 'Du sehst, es ist nicht so.' Something must have distracted him.

  18. I like my Wagner to look traditional, this production certainly was not. However after a while I began to enjoy the singing and the magnificent playing of the ROH orchestra under Sir Antonio Papano who, deservedly in my opinion, got a standing ovation. We had technical glitches at Royal Tunbridge Wells, screen went blank + no subtitles for first ten minutes. Obviously the technical part of a live broadcast still needs more work. I don't think we can blame it all on the weather.

  19. Russell Yates responded on 19 December 2013 at 2:44pm Reply

    I enjoyed the evening here in France at the Cinema. One thing I wish you would consider however. Between Act one and Two, you had the Conductor play the piano while the tenor sang. I found that very difficult in the context of an opera. One get's into it and then there is this stuff completely out of place because it has been removed from the context of the work.
    However, the discussions with Simon Cowell were both informative and interesting.

  20. Jonny Walker responded on 19 December 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

    Please put it out on DVD - once is not enough! Following Simon Callow's advice ti let it wash over you it is just too easy to nod off.....

  21. John responded on 19 December 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

    Oh I love Russell's comment at the end about Simon Cowell - think he must have had a clip of the X Factor in mind when he wrote that. Either that or the ROH is really dumming down on us!

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 19 December 2013 at 4:29pm

      Hi John

      A slip of the keyboard - it was Simon Callow rather than Cowell.

      Best wishes


  22. Penny Proudlock responded on 19 December 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

    well....having read through all the comments, here's my two pennyworth! I had never seen this opera before, I don't count a staged performance at RFH many years ago, with Domingo. I agree with the comment re Pappano...he seemed to be chewing something, although I'm SURE he wasn't! Yes....more long shots please, too much in close-up....this has happened on other ROH realys in cinema, unlike Met who show a variety of shots. The singing was wonderful although we found it hard to hear Rene Papp, were the mics in the wrong place? He seemed muted? Simon Callow's comments were helpful, specially for a novice....however, it does strike me that Wagner is an acquired taste and perhaps its not for everyone. I didn't really understand what the director etc were trying to achieve, sorry. My companion had seen the Met relay earlier this year and said ROH production was a poor comparison! Not sure I'd try it again, at least not for some time..

  23. David Marwick responded on 19 December 2013 at 3:51pm Reply

    Disappointed not to watch the performance at the Odeon in Edinburgh, but the drop-outs from half-way through Act 1 made it unwatchable. Three people returned for Act 2 and 10 minutes later when I left, there was one! Fortunately I had been at the ROH for the first performance, but wanted to see the action closer than the Amphitheatre, though, like others, I find cinema too obsessed with close-ups.
    I like to be challenged in the theatre and found this production to my liking. I have been thinking about the production ever since I saw it, trying to work out what Langridge's interpretation was.
    Musically it was very good, though found Denoke rather over-parted by Act 2, but a great actress. On the other hand, Pape's velvet tone is wonderful, if only I could believe he was Gurnemanz rather than Rene Pape.
    I would love to see it again to clarify some views I have of it. Shame!

  24. Brilliant show last night at Keswick Alhambra theatre. Just loved the fact that we had English subtitles so I think I understood Parsifal a lot better then on my previous live visits. Very happy. Many thanks.

  25. Nige Verney responded on 19 December 2013 at 8:27pm Reply

    I was just wondering if anybody else found the sound quality during the first act pretty dreadful. I found it distorted, particularly noticeable on the brass, and with an odd balance. The problem seemed to go away for the 2nd and 3rd acts.
    Was this a problem with the broadcast, my local cinema (Glasgow Cineworld) or just my ears?

    Sorry if I'm repeating myself, I thought I had posted this last night but I can't seem to find that post.

    • Mark Thackeray responded on 20 December 2013 at 10:52am

      Hi Nige,

      No changes were made to the orchestral mix between acts one and two. I've just checked the levels on the recording and there was no clipping on our output (maximum level was around 3dB below clip) and we didn't notice any distortion during the mix. Chances were that the problem was local, since the transmission problems we had (caused by the weather) tend to make the sound drop out rather than distort.

      Sorry that you didn't have the best evening.


      Mark Thackeray
      Broadcast Engineer, Royal Opera House

  26. Bob Frost responded on 19 December 2013 at 11:48pm Reply

    Saw Parsifal last night - disturbed sleep followed with dreams of Rebekah Brooks washing my feet.....

  27. William Swales responded on 20 December 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

    Best Parcifal ever! Finally we see Wagner's messages spelt out loud and clear. As Parcifal sets out on his journey of enlightenment, we see Mother Nature and Father Church each put their points across. We see homeopathy and faith healing beautifully kicked into touch; we see how pagan wishes and religious prayers are both the same thing - and neither work; we see religious zealots killing people that they have never met because their views are different; we see Parcifal wonder around in blind faith trapped in a box for 23 years, only able to hear and smell the wonders of nature until Mother Nature cures him of his blindness and he can once again see the marvels of nature all around him. If that wasn't enough emotional and spiritual turmoil, we then see what Parcifal sees when he is shown the 'Holy Grail' - and we see a hospital bed - depicting illness and death all the time we are willing to endure religion and it's methods of control and pain to sustain it, as Parcifal clutches his broken wheel of progress - broken by the zealots right at the onset, as he rejects religion and stares in awe at the unexplainable miracle that is all around us.

  28. Derek Robinson responded on 20 December 2013 at 1:51pm Reply

    Two days later and I have still not come down to earth.

    I was lucky enough to have already seen the production at ROH a couple of weeks ago, and I think that the benefits of the close-up shots are immense. Only when I saw the broadcast was I able to really pick up on all the subtleties of the acting. Had she not even sung a note, I think Kundry’s (Angela Denoke) performance would have been quite extraordinary. And in the closing scene, the quiet bliss of Gurnemanz (Rene Pape), as he observed the final resolution, a lifetime of devotion finally rewarded, made me cry. Musically it is of course a lot better to be at ROH. For true devotees, the answer perhaps has to be to get a second mortgage and to always ‘do the double’.

    I am puzzled by the comment that Antonia Pappano looked grumpy. My reading of it was that he seemed to drift off into a state of ecstasy from the first note!

    Anyway, for me a wonderful and musically sublime experience. So, thanks ROH, and when can we expect the DVD?

  29. Ian at Bolton responded on 20 December 2013 at 10:16pm Reply

    I came to Parsifal after listening to two radio broadcasts. At Bolton there were a few glitches with the live stream but they did not ruin the enjoyment of seeing the opera staged live. The guy who portrayed Parsifal had a great voice but his image detracted away from what is meant to be a young heroic innocent man. Kundry was was superbly played with a despairing sultriness and sensuousness. You could really feel her pain of wandering all those many years seeking redemption. The whole sound world created by the orchestra and conductor Pappano. Amfortas was excellently portrayed and delivered by Gerald Finley. Only quibble was why the grail was depicted by a young boy rather than if not a chalice but some other object to depict the power of the grail.

  30. Ann Dickman responded on 21 December 2013 at 5:27pm Reply

    Abysmal sound at Okehampton, out of sync, and screen with clicks and lines.
    The grail is a feminine symbol so why a boy? ROH paedophilia or hatred of women?

  31. ken sunshine responded on 21 December 2013 at 10:43pm Reply

    I'm surprised there has been so little comment on the cutting of the young boy. Was this real? If so were there a succession of young boys, a different one for each performance?
    You can't go mutilating young boys on stage, surely?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 21 December 2013 at 11:00pm

      Dear Ken

      No boys were cut during performances of Parsifal - it was a theatrical illusion.

      Best wishes


  32. ken sunshine responded on 21 December 2013 at 11:30pm Reply

    Thank you Ellen. That is what I hoped to hear. Can you explain how it was done or is that a technical secret?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 22 December 2013 at 4:46pm

      Hi Ken

      I'm afraid that it's difficult for us to find out over the festive period, but we can ask in the new year.

      Bet wishes


  33. Jacky T responded on 22 December 2013 at 11:23pm Reply

    We both felt uncomfortable with the substitution of a near-naked boy for the female symbol of a grail, thereby turning the union of knightly spear and female cup into the sight of men in raincoats abusing and cutting a boy child. Really quite shocking and totally unwarranted.

  34. Michael Doble responded on 26 December 2013 at 1:33pm Reply

    Fantastic production and performances. A few glitches at the start of Act II in Oxford, but otherwise fine. Will this be available on DVD at any point?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 26 December 2013 at 6:39pm

      Glad you enjoyed it Michael. It has yet to be confirmed whether the production will be available on DVD.

      Best wishes


  35. This is not Parsifal.

    Why these extremely creative and talented producers don’t go all the way in their amazing creativity and write the scripts and music and give titles to their own surely superb works of art instead of stealing the genius of others? Why these egotistic parasites are given the power to distort and kill colossal works?

    Why don’t they instead listen to the music, read AND FOLLOW the clear staging instructions from the real genius. The music talks about a misty forest, a sunrise, a flying swan, a hovering spear, a glowing grail... Plenty of room for creativity and innovation there using modern technology such as video projections, laser and imaginative light effects. So why not enhance the performance instead of fighting against it?

    The composer will always fill their halls and their performances will be sold out, so why opera houses around the world allow this massacre?

    Will we ever see Parsifal again?

  36. Carol Thomas responded on 10 January 2014 at 10:19pm Reply

    Saw this production for the first time on Jan. 9th. Intriguing - for the most part it was ok for a modern production. Finley and Pape were outstanding, but agree a pot bellied Parsifal is not my ideal Parsifal. And agree the boy in a diaper as the Grail was strange, but once he was covered up, I didn't feel so uncomfortable looking at him. It took a little bit to understand that concept.

    Did anyone see the nip slip by Denoke in Act 3? Or that Pape missed a line, also in Act 3? He recovered well though. I only noticed when there were words on the screen and no singing to go with them!

    I liked it for the most part - the Flower Maidens were awesome.

  37. Chris Mier responded on 13 February 2014 at 6:43am Reply

    Afternoon Folks

    I saw Parsifal yesterday here in Melbourne Australia. I loved it with highlights, Angela Denoke, the set design, and Rene Pape (who I saw do this role with the NY Met too).

    I'm a Wagner lover but not a snob and Parsifal's music here just swells and (yes Simon Callow) washes over me. The orchestra were hugely wonderful.

    I sometimes a little problem with orchestra volume over Rene. While I normally love Simon's voice I'm not convinced it was right for Parsifal. My jury is still out on that though as it wasn't wrong either. Hope that makes sense.

    Thanks very much to everyone involved.

  38. Robert O'Hara responded on 9 March 2014 at 1:47am Reply

    This was a powerful production. Well sung
    well acted and dramatic in staging. The enigma that baffles me is how an avowed
    atheist like Wagner could write such divine
    sacred music.

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