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My Parsifal Conductor

From 5 critic and 72 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow, Thought-provoking

About the show

In the Directors Company's new comedy, musical genius Richard Wagner and wife Cosima find themselves in a dilemma when King Ludwig insists that the son of a rabbi, Hermann Levi, conduct the premiere of "Parsifal."


In this spin on real-life events, Maestro Levi must consider his complex relationship with the Wagners. Does Art have its “special needs,” after all? "My Parsifal Conductor" is the world premiere comedy that dares to probe that question. Written by Emmy and Writers Guild Winner Allan Leicht.


“'My Parsifal Conductor’ is billed as ‘a Wagnerian comedy,’ and while Leicht's script may contain a few more laughs than there are in 'Götterdämmerung,' it's director Robert Kalfin's light comedic touches played by a terrific cast that make the evening fly. The current Off-Broadway the play's world premiere, and if the intention is to make serious points through laughter, both aspects need to be strengthened." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“A broad comedy based on the true story...The comic turbulence is over-extended and the writing could use more wit. But there are very funny sequences...It could use some trimming, but delving into the true situation and giving it a broad comic interpretation is imaginative and mostly entertaining. There is an abundance of acting, writing and directing skills in this colorful production.” Full Review


"'My Parsifal Conductor,' subtitled 'a Wagnerian Comedy'...Except for a few low key chuckles from a few women in back of me at the press preview I attended, that subtitle was apparently as much a misnomer for my fellow viewers as it was for me...Leicht's researched facts do indicate that 'My Parsifal Conductor' could be interesting enough to offset a theater-goer's resistance to a play with unlikable main characters...Unfortunately the way the story is structured comes off awkwardly." Full Review

Theater Life

"Deals with a powerful, artistically-inclined woman evaluating her past, but does not go very deep into the complex issues it raises...The subject is potentially gripping, but Licht...fails to significantly explore Wagner’s work, Cosima’s relationship to it or Levi’s, or the roots of European anti-Semitism. We never even learn why 'Parsifal' is considered so magnificent and why it was important that Levi interpret it...Kalfin’s direction is too broad as are the performances." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Not only ardent Wagnerites should be appalled; the trouble isn't the decision to mine their lives for laughter...But there's a difference between low humor and second-rate clowning, a distinction that is apparently lost on everyone here...Silly as it is, at least Act I has a conflict to dramatize; Act II is an exercise in marking time. And, throughout, the jokes are tired...A tiresome, trivializing work that diminishes its characters while failing to engage with the very ugly issue at its he... Full Review

Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging

See it if Want a great show that’s both funny and touching. Definitely exceeded my expectations- great acting and creative staging.

Don't see it if You don’t like historical plays or exploring the topic of antisemitism. The play drags a little, but overall it’s worth it.

Great acting, Great staging, Entertaining, Slow, Clever

See it if you're interested in Wagner or want to see great acting in a historical-ish drama

Don't see it if you're uncomfortable with plays that deal with antisemitism. While some funny parts, I wouldn't call it a comedy. A little slow in parts

Also I had no idea what to expect going in, but really liked it.

Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You like plays that take a look at the deepest feelings of the characters and how these feelings can change the lives of these individuals

Don't see it if You want to see a play that doesn't deal with religion and and anti-semitism.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Thought-provoking

See it if you like Wagner, you like plays about historical figures, you like plays about social themes

Don't see it if You are uncomfortable with anti-Semitic views and language, even though it's meant to point out their bigotry.

Also I found the play moving, funny and interesting. Perhaps it's a bit ove... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Clever, Funny

See it if If you like plays (loosely) based on true stories. Not to be taken too seriously but to entertain.

Don't see it if If you don't like period pieces or are die-hard Wagner fans and don't want to see anything that might make fun of his legacy.

Ambitious, Absorbing, Resonant, Riveting

See it if Masterful rendering of complicated history intrigues you.

Don't see it if Opera bores you, no matter how good.

Entertaining, Funny, Great staging, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if To learn more about the Wagners and also Herman Levi and their friendship over the years despite the Wagner's anti -semitism.

Don't see it if You are not interested in historical plays albeit this is more of a comedy,

Clever, Funny, Somewhat shocking, Thought-provoking, Great lighting and staging

See it if You are interested in the history surrounding Wagner, and can tolerate anti-Semetic views expressed to emphasize their wrongness.

Don't see it if I was rather shocked to hear the viewpoints spouted by some characters, but understood why it was done.

Also The ugly ideas expressed were balanced by terrific staging and a light... Read more Read less

Great writing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You want to learn about Richard Wagner's life, enjoy historical shows, appreciate classical music and want to see a well-acted show

Don't see it if If you don't want to see a lot of blatant antisemitism. Although it was well acted and i'm told historically accurate it was very slow

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky

See it if You like or are intrigued by Wagner, you enjoy plays about historical events, you like a play that is unexpectedly thoughtful

Don't see it if Discussions of anti-Semitism bore or offend you, you need to be wildy/loudly entertained

Ambitious, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Quirky

See it if you're an opera fan, esp. Wagner, curious re: history of Bayreuth & King Ludwig's role, & the Wagner's anti-semitism & Cosima's influence

Don't see it if you're not an opera fan or of Wagner specifically, have trouble with anti-Semites as main characters, don't like surreal situations

Also The production is ultimately quite rewarding even if Wagner himself is... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Overrated, Disappointing, Slow

See it if you want to see a most un-Wagnerian light comedy/memory play about Cosima's death-bed attempt to absolve the Wagners of their anti-Semitism.

Don't see it if you want to avoid an overstuffed, overlong, overacted comedy; you're not at least peripherally familiar w/Wagner, Nietzsche & King Ludwig II

Also Although I was disappointed by My Parsifal Conductor overall, there ar... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Disappointing, Quirky, Slow

See it if You are a Wagner fan or are interested in how otherwise intelligent people can pursue anti-Semitism or any form of irrational discrimination

Don't see it if You are looking for a strong plot with active, heroic characters.

Also The show tries hard to tell us something about tolerance for those who... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Historical, Timely, Thought-provoking

See it if Wonderful performances by all actors; best use of a limited set on an assumed limited budget; timely topics of bias; expert play construct

Don't see it if assumes working knowledge of Wagner and his works; barely compelling for those with Wagnerian knowledge

Indulgent, Tedious, Dizzying

See it if you like pretentious, humorless, overacted comedies about Wagner. Nietzsche and anti-semitism.

Don't see it if you don't like pretentious, humorless, overacted comedies about Wagner. Nietzsche and anti-semitism.

Beautifully designed but tedious & kind of pretentious

See it if You're willing to tolerate a tedious history lesson because of excellent design and production values.

Don't see it if You're not. Uberfans of Wagner and/or German history might be interested, but it's really not an engaging story as presented.

Also The costumes and scenic, lighting & sound design are all impressive. E... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if you care about opera and the difficult question of the art vs. the artist, and you like light theater on important topics.

Don't see it if you hate anachronisms, have set opinions about Wagner (not that this will change anyone's mind), or expect this to be a musical or an opera.

Also This play was much better than most reviews led me to expect. It is in... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Exquisite, Funny, Epic

See it if You’re interested in a humorous glimpse into the lives of Cosima & Richard Wagner and the evolution of German/ Jewish tensions.

Don't see it if You’re not interested in historical biopics or tragi-comedies with a dynamic female lead.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Funny, Clever, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you are interested in historical drama, or specifically in music history and the story of Richard and Cosima Wagner.

Don't see it if you are looking for a conventional comedy.

During previews
Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Funny, Entertaining

See it if you love opera, you're curious about Wagner and his marriage to Cosima, you enjoy a good story well told with larger than life characters

Don't see it if you don't like opera, you want a lot of action

During previews
Absorbing, Ambitious, Delightful, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy intelligent theater that informs and entertains. This is a wonderful, clever theater experience based on real people and events.

Don't see it if You don't want a theater experience where you have to actively engage and invest yourself to get the most out of the evening.

During previews
Great acting, Delightful, Refreshing, Hilarious, Resonant

See it if You're an ardent Wagnerite (or not). Enjoy historically based shows. Appreciate classical music.

Don't see it if You're sensitive to religion on stage; are adverse to laughing about serious issues (like anti-semitism); don't like elements of farce.

Also Although the play is historically based, I won't vouch for its accurac... Read more Read less

During previews
Charming, Clever, Witty, Thought-provoking, Poignant

See it if you like your history fractured, or have an interest in Jewish culture, or German culture, or are a Wagnerian, or an anti-Wagnerian.

Don't see it if you want your history plays to stick to the facts.

Also Why did I like “MY PARSIFAL CONDUCTOR” so much? As the aged Cosima Wag... Read more Read less

During previews
Resonant / absorbing / very entertaining, Nice cozy comfortable theater (had never been), Clever set & staging / cool lighting & projections / great costumes, Excellent professional ensemble / strong performances, Very funny & intelligent book (did not drag)

See it if you'd enjoy a based-on-facts play w/comedic take on classical music icons (Wagner, Levi) & 1800s European politics (Germany, anti-Semitism).

Don't see it if religious &/or anti-Semitic humor offends you, you're not into farce (silly ghostly caricatures), death-n-dying scenes, talk of infidelity.

Also Sitting for almost 4hrs @ the Met Opera monday nite...... Read more Read less

During previews
Thought-provoking, Disturbing

See it if want some insights into German anti-Semitism in the 1800's and specifically the depth of such feeling among Wagner and his wife.

Don't see it if expect an explanation of anti-Semitism or historical accuracy in the plot (Cosima's repentance is fanciful).

Also The goal of the playwright is not clear to me. Perhaps it is just to p... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (14)