A new release of Lohengrin on CD. A review from the performances on 18 & 20 December 2015.
Lohengrin is the story of a Grail knight who answers the call for help of the young noblewoman Elsa who is accused of having killed her little brother, which is getting the dear chap into in a boat pulled forward by a swan that, in reality is Elsa’s little brother, who, believed to be dead, was shape shifted into the animal by Ortrud, an evil woman with some issues and black-magical gifts who seduces Telramund, right hand of the Duke of Brabant, and causes him to accuse Elsa so that she and Telramund, who is really a bit of a wimp, can take the place that is vacant, after the disappearance of the legal heir of the Duke of Brabant, that little brother, and the planned removal of his sister Elsa, but the whole thing is thwarted by Lohengrin who - Nie Sollst Du Mich Befragen - proves Elsa's innocence by an ordeal, he defeats Telramund in a duel, which doesn’t prevent the evil souls in this music drama to go their evil ways and, like in all of opera, have some people killed before peace can be made but without those few people, Telramund, Ortrud and Elsa, who eventually has quite too much of it all, so at the end of the story when Lohengrin, meanwhile Elsa’s husband and ex-husband - I told you not to ask me my name - has turned the swan back into Elsa’s little brother thus enables the boy to take his rightful place as the new Duke of Brabant. Period.
Just his ‘In fernem Land’ was worth a visit to the Concertgebouw. And we, the lucky ones who were there, were treated with another three-and-a-half hours of the finest music. Sung by a superb cast. Also known from Bayreuth was Samuel Youn who sang the herald of the king. Large, sharp but never out of control. Falk Struckman sang a powerful king. Bad guy and girl Telramund and Ortrud were played respectively by Evgeny Nikitin and Katarina Dalayman and they did a very decent job though Dalayman had to be careful not to linger in permanent anger. Even a villain must show its attractive side now and then (the image of Waltraud Meier arises, no one like her masters the art of seductive evilness).
The feelings Camilla Nylund's Elsa gave me will perhaps one day end up in a poem. She was, in terms of voice and appearance, nothing less than to fall in love with. She’s welcome to ask me my name anytime.
Just Klaus Florian Vogt's ‘In fernem Land’ was worth a visit to the Concertgebouw
It is more a matter of contemporary experience than of historical accuracy, only Parsifal was composed with the acoustics of the Festspielhaus in mind, so how Wagner should be staged today is only to be determined by our own likings. In the Concertgebouw that stage design is the diametrically opposite to that of Bayreuth where the pit is placed under the stage. The idea behind that was that the singers didn’t have to force themselves to rise above the orchestra. It makes the orchestral sound in Bayreuth a bit compressed - like playing piano with the lid half closed. Especially the brass, placed in the back of the pit, has to play their guts out. Sometimes beyond salvation. The sound in Bayreuth mixes clearly different than that in the Concertgebouw where the sound is more magnified.