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Wagner - Lohengrin
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Top Customer Reviews
Elsa, sung and acted beautifully by Emily Magee, is hiding in the classroom cupboard. She finally comes forward to face the king after Telramund, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, has accused her of drowning her brother Gottfried, the Duke of Brabant. Telramund has been put up to this by his wife Ortrud, played by Luana DeVol. Elsa requests a champion to fight for her and lo and behold, the handsome stranger, John Treleaven, shows up, arising from the floor, piloted by a beautiful swan who is actually Gottfried.
In the classroom, all the children are rowdy throwing spitballs and paper missiles. Ortrud, dressed in black with red hair in pigtails, sings her lines while making nasty witch faces, pushing and shoving and being the manipulative, "mean" girl. The blonde Elsa, wearing white, is the picture of innocence and naivety.
As I said, the setting is ridiculous. You are watching adults, dressed as children and behaving like children. The king is wearing short pants. Telramund and Ortrud, depicted as children, are nevertheless married. The boys are all waving wooden swords, prepared to go to war for Germany. But, as the action proceeds and the story unfolds, the absurdity of the setting starts to fade away. And you find yourself just watching the fairy tale. At least, I did.Read more ›
But really, it only works (very well) for the relationship between Elsa and Lohengrin and the scenes about the mood of the people - say the second act and the bridal room scene in the third. The first act has too many lines that make no sense in that context, and also, it's hard to care about kids playing war in a classroom, despite some great moments. Ortrud for instance is superbly played and sung, but why does that school girl invokes paian Gods? Why does Telramund invokes his honor and family name?
Musically, it's pretty much meh. The first act is mostly a mess, you rarely can hear most of the soloists in the big ensembles. The more intimate moments are more of a success, and the playing gets better as the opera goes on.
So, it's definitely not a Lohengrin for MET donors, it has many extraordinary moments, but it still leaves whole parts of the opera unaddressed and it is not Konwitschny's best (I find his Götterdämmerung or his Tristan for instance one much superior). And the music doesn't make up for the shortcomings - quite the contrary: it's at it's best when the staging is.
As you have figured out, this performance of Lohengrin is not set in the tradtional middle German period. And this is what gives it its' freshness. From the opening credits an overview is given of the theater where the audience is relaxed and for the most part, caulally dressed. I love that. You get the feeling you could just walk right in and feel comfortable. Unlike the Met where the audience-, well, you get the point. I believe Wagner would appreciate this atmosphere because he wanted everyone to love his works. The director sets the stage in an elementary class room where the innocence of the setting contrasts the tragic nature of the opera. My interpretation of this production is thus: In order for the students, portrayed by the magnificent chorus, to really understand the subject of drama, are given the opportunity by their teacher, in this case the King (portrayed by the outstanding Reinhard Hagen), to actually perform a work of art-Lohengrin. Given this view-point, the classroom setting does not seem strange, odd, or inappropriate to me. The idea, in-itself, lends honor to the work of art that is being performed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Good(!?) buth "extreme", yes I now, it's PETER KONWITSCHNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Published on July 2, 2014 by Eric Lambrechts
I'ts difficult enjoy one Lohengrin after the Munchen prroduction with Jonas kaufmann.On this productions the singers are good but falts something. Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by Cláudio Trarbach
Musically surprisingly decent, but the production is a complete travesty.
Why are so many stage directors so eager to trash the works of the greatest musical dramatic... Read more
If there were a "zero stars" choice I would have rated it zero. Once again we have a director who thinks that substituting his judgment for Wagner's to make some sort of... Read morePublished on November 16, 2010 by NotMyRealName
This is indeed Eurotrash. It's not even worth owning to just listen to it; much less to watch it.
If you just want to listen get an old Bayreuth recording of Lohengrin. Read more
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