Wagner: Parsifal - Windgassen, Mödl, Von Rohr, Neidlinger, Cramer; Leitner. Paris, 1954
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Although in 1954 Europe was still smarting from the atrocities of World War II, in opera, and especially Wagner, a new cultural zeitgeist was emerging. This new ethos, spear-headed in no small part by the efforts of Wieland Wagner, put an artists' skills as an actor on a higher pedestal than before as well as physical credibility in a part. Fortunately there was a fresh crop of singers ready to step up to the plate. Wolfgang Windgassen's heldentenor was remarkable because he was a true tenor and not a pushed up baritone. Accordingly, his Parsifal is much more youthful and he was able to play up the naiveté of the character better than his colleagues. Martha Mödl's vivid performances to a great extent defined the tone of the post-war Bayreuth and her deep commitment inspired a generation of singing-actors. Here her voice is still in good shape and she throws herself into the role of Kundry with reckless abandon. Otto von Rohr's Gurnemanz may not be the most sonorous but he brings a touching human quality to the role. The sound is excellent.