Cher Public

Wingless victory

Of particular visual interest in last weekend’s Lohengrin (though not perhaps so tantalizing as Jonas Kaufmann‘s aristocratic bare feet, pictured above) is the very obvious change in the staging that was made between the antegenerale (in which Anja Harteros sang Elsa) and the telecast opening night.

Here we have approximately the same moment in rehearsal and performance.

Not only has the returned Gottfried doffed his single swan wing, but he is in an altogether different costume. At the dress rehearsal he was in a copy of Kaufmann’s first act outfit of slacks, open vest and loose casual white shirt. By the time opening night rolled around, he is in the navy blue military uniform Kaufmann dons for the first part of the second act.

Want to hear something even stranger? Apparently this Saturday’s Met HD telecast of Aïda will feature Roberto Alagna substituting for Olga Borodina in the role of Radamès.

Original of Aïda photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

  • aulus agerius

    I watched the first act last night and it was a trudge. The visuals got worse and worse. I really hated the jerky fetal first appearance of Lohengrin and the Elsa apparently suffering some kind of mental derangement. Herr Pape has gotten rather chunky, hasn’t he, in face and form? I felt annoyed by the continual appearances of Gottfried and those children whoever they were. I wasn’t turned on by the above-mentioned heroic feet -- or the stubby fingers for that matter. And a note to Herr Wagner: I get so sick of that oft-repeated trumpet figure -- dum tee dum tee DAH DUM or whatever; it’s almost a tiring as the neurotic Lisa motive in the letter scene of Eugene Onegin.

    • damekenneth

      Oh, dear. Looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

    • papopera

      whats that upright piano supposed to represent on stage ??

      • Often admonished

        that represents the impending strike by La Scala stage hands

  • Feldmarschallin

    Elsa and Gottfried get abused already as children by Ortrud and Telramund. You see Ortrud hitting Elsa on the hand with a wooden stick. That is why Elsa is so tormented and frightened and constantly fidgiting and scratching herself. The piano represents the youth and past.

  • FragendeFrau82

    The piano, while the scene of Elsa’s abuse by Ortrud (as we see it in a flashback) is also a safe haven for Elsa (as some people return to their abusers? or because ‘music’ is a safe haven for us?)

    It is also a haven for Lohengrin/(Gottfried?) as he goes to it in stressful situations.

    The child doppelgänger also appear from behind or near the piano.

    • warmke

      The piano is there for Barenboim’s next Beethoven program.

  • Bianca Castafiore

    For those that might be interested in watching this in a movie theater, please find the schedule by following the links here (January 20 in NYC for the Lohengrin):

    Some other scrumptious offerings, incl. the Kaspar Holten “Eugene Onegin” from London, with Stoyanova and Keenleyside.

  • Jack Jikes

    The photo from the antegenerale ties into what I took to be Gluth’s concept.
    I saw Lohengrin’s compassion for Gottfried bringing him to a partly realized metempsychosis with Elsa’s plight forcing him to a complete actuation --
    we first see Lohengrin in the final throes of a metamorphosis into an adult
    Gottfried. The simultaneous deaths of Lohengrin and Elsa bring Gottfried to a point of allowing a return to human form (antegenerale) or complete realization of
    boy-hero status (opening night). Rather than being extreme or peculiar, I found the
    performance haunting and heartbreaking. Dasch and Kaufmann give THE performances of 2013.

  • FragendeFrau82

    Very disappointed in the NYT review. If I, a rank amateur newbie opera lover, could get so much out of this production, how can he with a PhD in music history, remain so unmoved and misunderstanding?

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      Who “He”? Wer?

    • Feldmarschallin

      They also got the heading under the picture wrong since they say it is Annett Dasch when it is a picture of Anja Harteros. Not like they look similiar.

    • villagediva

      Fragende Frau -- I don’t think a doctorate in music history guarantees an imagination. It may just clog one up with rigid preconceptions. Like you, I was dismayed by GL’s dismissiveness of Guth’s Lohengrin. And like Jack Jikes I found the production haunting, moving, fascinating and complex. Guth’s Lohengrin is often in communication with the spirit(ual) world he has come from, trying to keep reminding himself of his ‘mission’ while trying to negotiate the clunky human world with its delusions and pointless rituals and conventions. He looks helplessly upward when Elsa first tells him she will give him all that she is, he suppresses giggles when the King pins a medal on him. Balancing along an imaginary tightrope, he plays the child, like Hamlet among the rigid adults (and as the son of Wagner’s ‘pure fool’, Parsifal) . Lohengrin and Elsa never touch -- it’s wrenching -- their worlds don’t meet. Even at the opening of Act 3, when Lohengrin as utterly human is radiantly in love with his wife and they run together along the balcony laughing, their hands never meet. He takes her to the Swan Lake -- a place of freedom, imagination, instinct, potential happiness -- but Elsa cannot let go of her social and emotional conditioning, which in this production came not only from the court, but also from Ortrud from early childhood (the piano). When they are finally ‘in touch’, and Lohengrin almost succeeds in making love to her, Guth has her direct her ‘ach, nein’ to him, rather than to Telramund (her ecstatic idea of romantic love probably includes the ‘zipless fuck’, and anyway, she is damaged.)
      Look, I’m only comparing it to Richard Jones’ production, which I also love. I haven’t seen others, but I really don’t need to see Lohengrin in armour. It seems to me Guth was lucky to be able to deepen the idea of anti-hero Lohengrin that Jones initiated, and also of course to be able to utilise Kaufmann’s infinite variety of expression. Not sure anyone will ever be able to cap what he does as an actor and singer.
      Annette Dasch’s astonishing last-minute appearance was a piece of theatrical serendipity -- she was dynamite -- even her blondeness made a powerful visual contrast to Ortrud, and she put across the ‘ordinary’ girlish human-ness of Elsa brilliantly. Would be fascinating to be able to see how the Petersen and Harteros peformances differ.

  • FragendeFrau82
  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Listening now to a recording of the second Lohengrin performance at La Scala and Herlitzius is really trying her best to channel Rysanek in Ortrud’s final lines. She manages some fearles phrases, but is simply not of the magnitude of Leonie. The orchestra is much better and I have not listend to much of Ann Peterson yet. The audience is mildy enthusiastic at the end final curtain with vociferous praise during the chiamati -- especially for Kaufmann and Baremboim.

    • Clita del Toro

      I Harteros still “indisposed”?

      • Quanto Painy Fakor

        Yes, she did not sing.

    • Quanto Painy Fakor

      more than 30 minutes of applause at the end!

      • FragendeFrau82

        I understood that Tomasson was announced as unwell but still singing before this second performance. That explains a lot about his performance in the prima.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Need Rysanek fix fast!