Film by Vadim Jendreyko (Germany, 2011)
Calixto Bieito (b. 1963), the Spanish director of Barcelona’s Teatre Romea, is popularly dubbed the “scandal director”, and indeed his modern, often explicitly violent and sexualised opera productions have provoked aversion and approval in equal measure among audiences and critics. In Stuttgart in 2010 he staged Wagner’s Parsifal as an existential story of the end of time.
“Bieito injects the breathtaking drama of a sci-fi thriller into the old redemption story of the naïve fool, of fathers who devour their sons, of the sacred spear and Holy Grail with all their Catholic mysteries and of the symbolism of sexual repression”, wrote Eleonore Büning in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Time flies in the space, and (almost) everything makes sense.” Naturally there were also violent objections to Bieito’s staging.
Vadim Jendreyko has followed the genesis of the Stuttgart production with his camera. In his film he shows Bieito at work – thoughtful, precise, unruffled – and in interaction with all the participants – the discussions, misunderstandings, conflict, but also an understanding shown for the “other side” – as well as the gruelling working process. The film is also a glimpse behind the scenes, vividly and candidly displaying the functioning of a large opera house.