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A new temple to Wagner on the Danube, not Rhine

Jun 23, 2011, 4:34 a.m.

Critic Miklos Fay writing in the left-learning Nepszabadsag said the staging was "not a sensational idea, but you could still sing the piece."

And sing it they did, with the Hungarian Army Men's Choir, assisted by other choirs, giving the "full volume" Wagner lovers their money's worth. The 100-plus ensemble made a mammoth sound, fulfilling Fischer's goal of getting the choir more involved in the action than is traditional in Wagner stagings.

"The new challenge this year was the active chorus," Fischer said. "We don't know exactly how the hall will react, or how to use the chorus, but we started this year, and of course the biggest challenge will be in two years with 'Meistersinger' where the chorus is not just huge, but must act as well."

A mixed male-female and children's choir was prominent in the "Parsifal" staged by two young women directors, Alexandra Szemeredy and Magdolna Parditka, who put on Wagner's tale about terminally dysfunctional Knights of the Holy Grail almost as an oratorio, with the choir beaming their voices from three levels.

They also directed Wagner's searing romance-gone-wrong, "Tristan und Isolde," with a set that made it appear that the inside of the concert hall had been hit by an earthquake.

"We are lucky to show the two pieces together. If 'Parsifal' is positive then 'Tristan' is negative," Szemeredy, dressed in white, said in an interview during a break in "Parsifal."

"Our stage design in 'Tristan' is negative, the whole room is broken while here in the 'Parsifal' we try to show the whole room in white," Parditka, who was dressed all in black, said.

"'Tristan' can be addictive," she added, with a nod to Wagner's musically most sophisticated and most romantic work.

(Information about the "Wagner Days" and other events at the Palace of Arts on www.mupa.hu)

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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