National Opera, Sofia 2017

Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Constantin Trinks
Director: Plamen Kartaloff
Scenography: Numen + Ivana Jonke

The main concept was to follow the mythical/ceremonial aspects of the libretto and to highlight Wagner’s specific symbolic language - i.e. to remain anchored firmly within the epic. This required a certain amount of theatricality and descriptiveness in stage design; figurative imagery somehow always slipping into abstraction. With such approach we tried to avoid the pitfalls of contemporary interpretation and western Regietheater which would often narrow the timeless spectrum of the work and thus diminish its power. 

The starting image of the Act 1 - a shadowy forest and lake in the Domain of the Grail - is something essentially organic but calm - a state of nature whose inner chaos harbours a hint of order. 

The atmosphere is enchanted and slightly threatening, a specific mood which we underscored using “feedback” projections on intertwined straps of draperies, fabrics and ropes, rich in folds, movement, depth and texture.
The specific visual pattern of the projections is achieved by streaming live camera  footage of the stage in real time and using minimal filters - which produces random echo/interference effects. 
The scene appears drowsy, unreal, with image delay and blurred movement - suggesting the world being seen through the eyes of the wounded Amfortas, staggering in mortal delirium.  
The illusion of deep forest is dispelled with the simple act of hoisting, transforming the chthonic realm of the woods into the pure architectural order of the castle of Monsalvat. This is the crucial transformation scene in Parsifal inscenations (Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit!).
In the next turn, the stage rotates and the central ropes spiral inward to form an abstract “wireframe” of the holy chalice.




Transformation Scene (“Zum Raum wird hier die Zeit.”)


Revealing the Holy Grail


The Act 2, Klingsor’s domain, is a complete opposite of the passive structural harmony of Monsalvat. 
Klingor’s dark laboratory is ruled by occult desire and will to power, it’s a seat of impure magic and sorcery, both unhealthy and unholy - a seductive trap, soft, formless, labyrinthine, difficult to grasp and conquer. 
We designed an amorphous, inflated pillow of red velvet fabric - pulsating below Klingor’s steampunk laser lab - a voluptuous mass which rises and engulfs but ultimately shrivels and slithers away, defeated in the end by the unassuming Parsifal. 
The main idea was to have the entire set in constant slow motion, entrancing, like movement of algae under water or thin veils in the wind. 



In Act 3 Parsifal victoriously returns to Monsalvat with the spear, into the castle/forest that is similar to the one from Act 1 yet somehow entirely transformed. 
There is a clear symmetry between second scene in Act 1 and second scene in Act 3, as both involve the Grail ceremony and very elaborate orchestral sequences.  
The transformed sacramental chamber is now constructed from laser light instead of ropes - intangible, immaterial, a holy vision more than anything real. 
The continuous delirium of feedback projections finally stops the moment Grail and spear are reunited.
In a controlled animation, the laser beams rotate and lock into the form of the great “light chalice” in the finale when Parsifal heals Amfortas’s wound, uncovers the Grail and ends the paralysis of Monsalvat.  
Through this act, time of closure is over and infinity opens up, the Redeemer is redeemed.