Sunday, 1 July 2018
Lohengrin at the Royal Opera
There is a lot to like about Lohengrin - big choruses, brassy sound, bit soprano roles, big tenor roles. So it is always a challenge to take this much-loved Wagner opera to the next level.
Jennifer Davis as Else von Brabant was excellent - her strong acting skills were matched by her vocal abilities and clear delivery of text (always important for Wagner). Christine Goerke gave us a gutsy and verminous Ortrud in sharp contrast to Davis. Thomas Mayer's Telramund started out bombastically in act one, but reduced to a suitably weak and introspective voice by the end of act two - which I think what the role demanded. Klaus Florian Vogt, the horn player turned tenor, gave us an otherworldly Lohengrin. The timbre of his voice sat "apart" from the rest of the cast - ethereal for quiet contemplative moments, heroic where needed. It's not a voice that you need to "like", but a voice that suited the role.
David Alden's direction took advantage of the three dimensional set by Paul Steinberg. There was always movement, and the set provided the essential juxtaposition points for the unfolding drama. Some may not like the overtly militaristic overtone, but the opera was after all set in a turbulent time of warring Germania!
Andris Nelsons, oh boy, didn't he give it all? His baton often raised above the pit to ensure the tenors delivered the essential chorus lines, or the strings maintained the melody. The expansive orchestra, clarionic brass and muscular chorus gave us many spine tinglingly good moments.
Definitely a Lohengrin that one will remember.