Lavish Wagner opera opens to boos in Berlin

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The Independent Culture

Bernd Eichinger, the German film producer whose movie Downfall about Adolf Hitler 's last days opens in London this week, endured boos and catcalls from audiences in Berlin for his lavish and bizarre production of Richard Wagner's opera, Parsifal.

Bernd Eichinger, the German film producer whose movie Downfall about Adolf Hitler 's last days opens in London this week, endured boos and catcalls from audiences in Berlin for his lavish and bizarre production of Richard Wagner's opera, Parsifal.

It was 55-year-old Mr Eichinger's first foray into the world of sopranos and 19th- century Teutonic heroes but the well-heeled crowd that turned up at Berlin's state opera house at the weekend for the premiere was not wholly impressed.

When the final curtain fell on the five-hour Parsifal production, Berlin's opera-goers erupted into a round of "bravos" that was matched by an equally loud outburst of boos and witheringly derisive comment from the critics.

"The music was wonderful, but the stage play was dreadful," remarked Thomas Flierl, Berlin's senator for culture. Wolfgang Wagner, the grandson of Richard Wagner, was equally dismissive: "I will wait a week and then see if I can remember anything about the production," he said.

Germany's Bild newspaper asked readers yesterday: " Parsifal - is it worth five hours of your time?" Mr Eichinger seemed to accept his critics' verdict. He appeared on stage to give a tortured smile. "I rather expected it," he said.

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