Certainly, Domingo can sing the part: Domingo has the polished technique of a man a third his age and a golden tone that very few men of any age have ever been able to match. But his is an old voice – through the polish and the tone, one can hear slight but unmistakable creaks and faint but undeniable cracks. And because of these creaks and cracks, the listener finds it impossible to believe in Domingo’s portrayal. For all Domingo’s mature wisdom and acute musical intelligence, he cannot transform himself into a pure and innocent youth and his inability to create a credible character leaves a gapping hole at the center of the work. Following his rapturous Tristan, Thielemann’s Parsifal is nearly as ecstatic and even more cogent and he elicits wonderfully characterized performances from the cast, particularly from Waltraud Meier as the tortured femme fatale Kundry. But with an old man as the title character, this Parsifal is, ultimately, and unfortunately unbelievable.
Marred only by the occasional footfalls of marching Grail Knights, Deutsche Grammophon’s live sound from the Wiener Staatsoper is marvelously quiet and fabulously realistic.