The Wagner Journal

Mark Berry, Interpreting Wagner’s Dreams: Staging ‘Parsifal’ in the Twenty-first Century

Mark Berry, Interpreting Wagner’s Dreams: Staging ‘Parsifal’ in the Twenty-first Century

Regular price £3.00 GBP
Regular price Sale price £3.00 GBP
Sale Sold out
Taxes included.
Who's Buying?

July 2017, Volume 11, Number 2, 44–53.

Parsifal, like all of Wagner’s dramas, is particularly revealing at the intersection of authorial intention and latent content. What is revealed and what is repressed? Dreams were certainly of great importance to Wagner, perhaps most famously in his claim that the Prelude to Das Rheingold, the first of the Ring dramas, had come to him in ‘a kind of
somnambulistic state […] the feeling of being immersed in rapidly flowing water’, and indeed indeed in the dramatic material of a number of his works. Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is explicitly concerned with the formation of an artwork initially revealed in a dream world. That offers an interesting way to consider stagings of his works too, and their claims to fidelity or otherwise at a textual or allegedly ‘deeper’ level. I shall consider the claim of the work ‘itself’ to stand apart from the operatic repertoire as a Bühnenweihfestspiel (stage festival consecration play) to be confined to his artistic temple at Bayreuth. However, my principal focus will be upon two particular productions: those of Stefan Herheim (Bayreuth, 2008–12) and of Dmitri Tcherniakov (Berlin, 2015–). A broader, implicit question would be: how do directors and performers navigate the historical, social, cultural and psychological distances and conflicts between Wagner’s intentions, his ability and inability to fulfil and perhaps even to transcend those intentions, and the needs of contemporary theatres and audiences? What is gained and what is lost? What, again, is revealed and what is repressed?

View full details