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Wagner - Lohengrin

2.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Emily Magee, Luana DeVol, John Treleaven, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, Reinhard Hagen, and Robert Bork star in this Gran Teatre del Liceu production of the Wagner opera conducted by Sebastian Weigle on July 19, 2006.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: John Treleaven, Emily Magee, Luana DeVol, Hans-Joachim Ketelsen, Reinhard Hagen
  • Directors: Peter Konwitschny
  • Format: NTSC, Anamorphic, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish, Catalan
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2007
  • Run Time: 200 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000Q7ZKVQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,900 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By P. Sutherland on December 29, 2007
Format: DVD
Before purchasing this video, I had the benefit of reading a favorable review in Opera News, which prepared me for the shock of seeing Lohengrin set in a classroom with all the players cast as children. It is absolutely absurd...but it works! All the boys, including the king with a paper crown, wear short pants and knee socks; all the girls, simple skirts and blouses with socks and little girl shoes.

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.
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I think Konwitschny is an awesome director who created moving, thought provoking and extremely convincing productions. In this case, he chose to set up Lohengrin in a so called "classroom" environment, ie every body but Lohengrin are school kids, and Lohengrin is an adult that the teens find fascinating. There's a lot of virtues to that view and, as always with Konwitschny, it is extremely well staged, very clear and understandable. It makes the fascination with Lohengrin, the mood swings of the people, in particular, very understandable and relatable. And of course it takes the edge off the call to wars and other "deutsches Volk" parts.

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.
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Format: DVD
Although the reviews for the Peter Konwitschny Lohengrin production in Barcelona have been mixed, I give it five stars. Art is, in-itself, subjective. If you are searching on this site for which opera dvd to purchase and you base you're decision on whether the opera dvd gets a five star rating from everyone who reviews it, then you will probaly not buy many of these dvd's. Some of my favorate opera dvd's, like this one, get good and bad reviews. You have to do your homework; and you can get a good idea about the particular performance before you buy. This what I did for this Lohengrin.

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.
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