Lohengrin at the Bayreuther Festspiele
August 11, 2013
* Notes *
Last night's performance of Lohengrin at the Bayreuther Festspiele was compelling. The orchestra sounded clear and fresh under the baton of Andris Nelsons, without ever being dull or devoid of passion. The brass was perfectly clear, as did the strings and the woodwinds. Nelsons also struck a fine balance between the instrumentalists and singers, and only rarely overwhelmed the latter. The chorus also sounded remarkably beautiful and in unison.
The rest of the singing was even. Samuel Youn has impressive hair as Der Heerrufer des Königs, and sang nicely. Petra Lang was an impassioned and insistent Ortrud. Thomas J. Mayer (Friedrich von Telramund) does not have a particularly rich voice, but was suitably threatening. Wilhelm Schwinghammer was not the most commanding König Heinrich, but gave a satisfactory perforrmance. Annette Dasch made for a sweet-voiced Elsa von Brabant. Klaus Florian sounded bright and pleasantly brassy in the title role, his voice cut through the chorus and orchestra with ease.
The production from Hans Neuenfels certainly appears to have an internal consistency, featuring chorus members dressed as laboratory rats. Said rodents were a skillful combination of cute and creepy. Everyone moved elegantly. At various times the treatment of the swan used taxidermy, bathtubs, and sculpture. It was all entirely entertaining, though it was not clear to me what any of it had to do with Wagner's opera, despite the fact it was all splendidly coordinated with the music.
* Tattling *
There were scattered whispers when only the orchestra played. The audience laughed when the lab rats did funny things, especially the small pink ones that must have employed child supernumeraries. A couple in front of us in the middle of the twenty-second row read the vocal score.
A very nice couple from Düsseldorf let Axel Feldheim and I practice German with them at our shared table during the second intermission.