Thursday, March 16, 2006

Peter Schneider meets Parsifal

Conductor Peter Schneider has been named James Levine's replacement for the three performance of Wagner's Parsifal which will play during the month of May. He is a native of Vienna, where he began his musical career early in life as a member of the famous Vienna Boys Choir. He has conducted extensively throughout the world, but his home base is the Vienna State Opera where he has conducted since 1984. In 2004 he was awarded the title of honorary conductor at this famed opera house. The 2004-2005 season at the Vienna State Opera was a Wagnerian year for maestro Schneider. He conducted The Ring, Parsifal, and Tristan und Isolde. In the summer of 2005 he conducted all performances of Lohengrin at the Bayreuth Festival. I heard and recorded the premiere performance of this Lohengrin production on July 26. It featured tenor Peter Seiffert in the title role (for a complete cast list of this production, click here) and soprano Petra-Maria Schnitzer.

Regretfully, the reviews for this production were lukewarm at best. Referring to Peter Schneider's conducting, Andrew Clark in the Financial Times wrote that "it was no better than you would find anywhere else in Germany." Although this is not too promising, we have to remember that maestro Schneider is an accomplished musician with loads of experience, and that the stellar cast that the MET has assembled for the May Parsifals will inspire any conductor to greater heights. At least, I hope so.

Now, let's see what tempi he will use for this work. If you have heard Peter Schneider conduct Parsifal elsewhere, feel free to comment.

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