Notes and Editorial Reviews
Recorded live at the Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden in June 2006.
Picture format: NTSC 16:9 Anamorphic.
Sound format: DTS Surround / LPCM Stereo.
Region code: 0 (All Regions).
Languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian.
Running time: 279 minutes.
Never Shalt Thou Ask of Me - A documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Stephan Braunfels, Bettina Walter, Kent Nagano and leading members of the cast / Illustrated Synopsis / Cast Gallery.
Just as the Nikolaus Lehnhoff/Kent Nagano Parsifal is now the finest available on DVD, so has the same team scored brilliantly with this
Lohengrin. Taped at the Festspielhaus in Baden Baden in 2006, the spotless, focused production goes hand-in-hand with Nagano's no-nonsense leadership. Bettina Walker's costumes set the action in the present, while director Nikolaus Lehnhoff makes it clear that it is also in Elsa's mind: during the prelude, played as if it had descended from Heaven, we see a shaft of white light at stage rear, from which Elsa walks very slowly toward a simple chair. The chair--her presence--remains on stage throughout the opera. The white light reappears as the embodiment of the Swan.
The Brabantians and soldiers are seated on terraced rows (sets are by Stephan Braunfels, a German architect) in a semi-circle for the first and last acts, and their attitude is nothing if not mob/military. The second-act set is a series of staircases going up, up, up into a void; it is both effective and spooky. Lehnhoff breaks with austerity and gives us a Bridal Chamber Scene with a dark blue billowing curtain and Lohengrin at the piano, clearly representing Wagner composing.
We realize that Lohengrin has been Wagner all along: self-involved, above-the-fray, answerable to no one. He arrives on the scene, offering himself to the world and Elsa--his muse--with the condition that she never attempt to interfere or influence him by asking him about himself. And when she does, his art-world (the curtain, in this case) collapses, and the amphitheaters return. He must be loved and obeyed without question. The concept never overpowers the music and it allows the drama to naturally unfold. There are fine details along the way--Ortrud mouthing the words to Lohengrin's warning to Elsa in the first act as if she were pre-ordaining it--and the end product is riveting. Director-for-TV Thomas Grimm captures individual as well as group reactions for maximum effect.
The top-notch cast includes soprano Solveig Kringelborn as Elsa, whose innocent, glowing, blue-eyed look ideally matches her silvery sound and totally convinces; Klaus Florian Vogt, a Lohengrin with a perfect Tamino voice that somehow manages to laser its way through the role without forcing and who acts the part of the Knight-composer with grace; Waltraud Meier, an Ortrud of thorough nastiness and power despite waning vocal resources; Tom Fox as a snide, cringing thug of a Telramund; and Roman Trekel as a self-important Herald and Hans-Peter König as a vocally good but seemingly weak-willed King. Chorus and orchestra are excellent under Nagano's whip-smart control, with tempos and tension that never flag; sound and image are all we might ask for. And so despite an excellent Abbado/Domingo performance (Image Entertainment) and the Bayreuth performance with Peter Hoffmann as Lohengrin (EuroArts), this is the DVD Lohengrin to own.
-- Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Lohengrin by Richard Wagner
Roman Trekel (Baritone),
Waltraud Meier (Mezzo Soprano),
Tom Fox (Baritone),
Klaus Florian Vogt (Tenor),
Solveig Kringelborn (Soprano)
Lyon Opera Chorus,
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Written: 1846-1847; Germany
Date of Recording: June 2006
Venue: Live Festspielhaus, Baden-Baden, Germany
Be the first to review this title