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Weekend opera: The Met's Cancon Parsifal and the Pearl Fishers in concert from Paris

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The flower maidens try to rip off Parsifal's clothes in the new Metropolitan Opera production staged by François Girard (Metropolitan Opera photo).
The flower maidens try to rip off Jonas Kaufmann’s clothes in the new Metropolitan Opera production of Parsifal staged by François Girard (Metropolitan Opera photo).

The Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Parsifal, which comes with Canadian content, takes over the whole afternoon at Cineplex theatres and on CBC Radio 2’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera.

The big star in this production is tenor Jonas Kaufmann in the title role. Bass René Pape is also part of the strong cast. The conductor is the always solid Daniele Gatti.

This new production is directed by Quebecer François Girard and the sets were designed by Torontonian Michael Levine.

The New York Times‘ critic Anthony Tommasini called the gloomy, post-apocalypic staging “a downer,” but had nothing but nice things to say about the musical aspect (you can read his review here).

The 5-1/2-hour afternoon (which includes two intermissions) starts at noon, Eastern. For Cineplex Live-in-HD details, click here (there will be an encore presentation on Apr. 20). For CBC Radio 2 details, click here.


Georges Bizet was a master orchestral composer and a great tunesmith. Once upon a time in the mid-20th century, his 1863 opera The Pearl Fishers was nearly as popular as Carmen, but has since nearly fallen off the radar, except for the glorious Act I duet, “Au fond du temple saint.”

Available for free streaming since yesterday is a solid concert version from Salle Pleyel in Paris (recorded on Feb. 17), featuring Roberto Alagna as Nadir, and wonderful French baritone Alexandre Duhamel as Zurga. A fine discovery for me was Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze, who sang the role of Leila.

Giorgi Croci coaxes much colour out of the rich score, conducting the Orchestre de chambre de Paris. The youthful chorus (they all look as if they’re 30) was nicely prepared by rising-star French choral conductor Béatrice Warcollier.

Everyone does such a great job that it’s painfully obvious that Alagna, the biggest star, arrived the least prepared. The unending flow of gorgeous music in HD is worth catching anyway on here.

John Terauds


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