On Sunday 30th at 3.30pm we have the most recent Bayreuth production of Wagner’s LOHENGRIN (3h30mins + intervals).
In this new production of Wagner’s Lohengrin directed by Yuval Sharon - born in Chicago in 1979 to Israeli parents and the Bayreuth Festival’s first American director - he delivered an electrically-charged and imaginative production that - like Hans Neuenfels’ rat-infested one - challenged the traditional boundaries of opera direction which, hopefully, is now finding favour with Bayreuth’s traditionally-minded audience. Christian Thielemann conducts with Piotr Beczała in the title role, Anja Harteros as Elsa, Tomasz Konieczny as Telramund, Waltraud Meier as Ortrud and Georg Zeppenfeld as Heinrich der Vogler.
‘’ Whatever you make of it all, it's a great Lohengrin that looks and sounds terrific and is certainly thought-provoking. Christian Thielemann can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned, conducting this performance with pace and vigour, but never aggressively, allowing the full Romantic flow of the work to dominate. The casting on paper looks close to ideal, but the few concerns you might have are borne out to some extent. Little needs to be said about Georg Zeppenfeld's clear authoritative King Henry; his acting abilities are maybe limited to eyebrow raising, but there's not a lot of room for interpretation in the role. Tomasz Konieczny is a superb Telramund; no cartoon villainy here, he combines a steely formidability in his voice with a weakness towards the machinations of Ortrud. Waltraud Meier is evidently not the force she once was, but her experience and interpretation count for a lot, bringing much to a vital role that deserves more than caricature.
The star of the show as far as I was concerned (and the Bayreuth audience as well from the sound of it, although Meier also got a long enthusiastic and respectful ovation) was Piotr Beczala. Drafted into the production at short notice following the departure of the scheduled Roberto Alagna, who found himself not fully prepared for the role, Beczala was a luminous heroic Lohengrin, his voice clear, bright and lyrical, his diction superb, sounding genuinely otherworldly. It's great to hear a different voice from the ubiquitous Klaus Florian Vogt in this role and Beczala, who already demonstrated his capability for the role in the Dresden production in 2016, is even better here, completely in command.‘’ Opera Journal
‘’ Christian Thielemann conducts a luxurious reading of the opera and the cast is to match. Piotr Beczała’s Lohengrin and Anja Harteros’ Elsa are equal in pure and golden tone and look a dream. Waltraud Meier still has surprising reserves of power at the scything top of her voice as Ortrud. Thomas Konieczny’s Telramund is baleful, and Georg Zeppenfeld’s Heinrich optimum casting.’’ Opera Now
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