Wagner: Parsifal - Thomas, Varnay, Adam, Hotter, Talvela, Neidlinger, Silja; Cluytens. Bayreuth, 1965
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This performance of Parsifal is precious for many reasons but the biggest draw for me is the Kundry of Astrid Varnay. It is perplexing why Varnay did not sing this role more as it fits both her voice and temperament like a glove. And although by the sixties she was already eschewing her former soprano roles in favor of mezzo parts, Kundry is still well within her comfort zone. She is joined by Jess Thomas whose voice was beginning to show the ravages of a heavy diet of Wagner. That said, there is still a lyrical quality that makes for a convincing Parsifal. Although Hans Hotter was never a true bass, by 1965 his voice had darkened to a great extent making the leap to these roles seem plausible and he brings a fatherly quality to Gurnemanz. André Cluytens shows his mastery as a Wagnerian, creating a performance that is neither fast nor slow and filled with beautiful color and detail. The sound for the most part is good, although there are a few moments at the end of the Good Friday Scene where the tape must have gone a little haywire.