Dec 23, 2012

Lohengrin, Scala opening night

Lohengrin, Richard Wagner

Daniel Barenboim, conductor
Claus Guth, staging
Christian Schmidt, sets and costumes
Olaf Winter, lights
Ronny Dietrich, dramaturgy
Jonas Kaufmann, Lohengrin
Ann Petersen, Elsa von Brabant
René Pape, Heinrich der Vogler
Tómas Tómasson, Friedrich von Telramund
Evelyn Herlitzius, Ortrud
Zeljko Lucic, Der Heerrufer des Königs

I may not have understood everything in Claus Guth's interpretation of Lohengrin (especially the entrance of Lohengrin and his initial behavior) but overall, as usual, I was transported in his unique world, full of grace, subtility, humor and childhood references.

The only disruptive image was the half-swan/half-child costume, not quite the same standard, I thought, as everything else.

Ann Petersen, a last minute replacement for the role of Elsa was phenomenal, both on the acting and singing part: she portrayed uniquely the madness Guth put in Elsa and to be able to apprehend the staging in less than 24 hour was a miracle in itself. 
Her singing, moreover, was a joy to listen to.

René Pape and Tómas Tómasson both sang admirably; Tómasson's stage presence really sold his character in a level I had rarely seen before (especially for Telramund).

 Evelyn Herlitzius portrayed a demoniac Ortrud but her singing was a bit of a let down.

And Jonas Kaufmann was, of course, to no surprise, the king of the night.
His singing is exquisite, and the role of Lohengrin is perfect for his voice, because the darkness he has is the first perfect step toward seeing Lohengrin as anything but the white knight on his gigantic swan.

Several mistakes were heard in the orchestra pit, especially a lack of unisson at times.
The interpretation of Daniel Barenboim was anything but flamboyant (a quality he deeply lacks, I think), but decent enough not to get in the way of the singers.

A word on the Scala chorus: I must say it does not live up to the standards the Scala name is synonym with.
Their diction was quite awful (and if I, whose german is anything but fluent, can hear it, I can only imagine what native german speakers endured there) and there was something missing in their stage presence: discipline is the first word that comes to mind.

 Overall, a very good evening.

Personal ratings
Singers : A
Staging : A
Conductor: B
Orchestra: B-
Chorus : C
All photographs Foto Ufficio Stampa