The knight of the Swan in a world of Swasti-swans and war. Opera Vlaanderen starts the new season with David Alden's take on Lohengrin.
The story of Lohengrin can be seen as a parable about saviors and strong men. The historically sensitive "looking for a strong man in the German Empire" premise results in a staging that refers to war violence and Nazis. David Alden places the fairy tale-like Lohengrin in a raw, realistic world. Although the Leni Reifenstahl-like stage images don't leave the viewer any doubt about their origin and character, their use remain abstract enough not to nail the piece solely to the Nazi-era.
As King Heinrich, Wilhelm Schwinghammer took over the role of the Thorsten Grümbel (who was ill) and did so with great acclaim. Schwinghammer portrayed Heinrich not without humour and turned the king, eventually, into a deeply tragic figure.
Schwinghammer was a last-minute addition to the cast (at the premiere he sang the role from the side of the stage while the sick Grümbel played the role onstage) of which Liene Kinča and Iréne Theorin made their roll debut as respectively Elsa and Ortrud . Kinča's voice sounded as if it was trapped in a small room. This was not a problem in the quiet belcanto parts of the role (she was a sensitive, beautiful Elsa) but with the high notes she pushed her voice over the edge. Her savior Zoran Todorovich had some problems in the role of Lohengrin. He had clearly paid extra attention to his "In Fernem Land" but there were some pale colours on his vocal palette. As a direct consequence of this, the role left much to be desired and it showed the power of the Wagner drama and of this production that the piece eventually managed to make such a convincing impression.
Ghent: Th 20, Su 23, We 26, Fr 28 September
Antwerp: Su 7, We 10, Su 14, We 17, Sa 20, Te 23 October
Conductor Alejo Pérez
Regie David Alden
Decor Paul Steinberg
Costums Gideon Davey
Light Adam Silverman
König Heinrich Wilhelm Schwinghammer
Lohengrin Zoran Todorovich
Elsa von Brabant Liene Kinča
Telramund Craig Colclough
Ortrud Iréne Theorin
Heerrufer Vincenzo Neri