, January 2013
The director Hans Neuenfels, and those who designed the production, imagine Lohengrin as a kind of bio-psychological scientific experiment and the set evokes a “Skinner Box,” the apparatus used for operant conditioning testing. The good people of Brabant are, indeed, rats with cartoon-like hands, feet, tails, and large mesh heads with glowing rodent eyes. A briskly efficient crew of men in blue hazard suits supervises them periodically. These are, it should be noted, rats with a real sense of style, and the stage picture at the end of act II is stunning. The element of fantasy…is entirely in keeping with the conception of Lohengrin as a “fairy tale opera.”
Remarkably, these Bayreuth performances represent the German soprano Annette Dasch’s first go at the role [as Elsa] and she gives a richly complex realization. Her opening lines in act II (“Euch Lüften, die mein Klagen”) are anything but chaste, a quasi-erotic reverie that concludes with her kissing a swan with a phallicly elongated neck.
…Klaus Florian Vogt is the world’s most sought-after Lohengrin…Vogt doesn’t disappoint—his voice is so well suited to the part and his musical instincts so good…the dramatic power of the work rides squarely on the shoulders of the singer in the title role and here Vogt delivers as surely as ever. From his act I entrance right through “In fernem Land,” he holds Elsa, the people of Brabant, and us in his thrall.
As Ortrud, Petra Lang is about as malignantly evil as Wagner’s villains get, sneering, leering, and glaring pretty much every second she’s on camera and offering up some venomous vocalism. Jukka Rasilainen is no weak pawn of his consort…Georg Zeppenfeld has a strong bass instrument but his relatively slight physical presence matches well Wagner’s implication of a weak and insecure monarch.
The chorus, as always at Bayreuth, is phenomenal and Andris Nelsons leads with a sure hand…The cinematography is superb and the imaginative animations that are projected onstage at various points throughout the opera can be ideally viewed in the Extra section along with interviews of Katharina Wagner…Klaus Florian Vogt and Annette Dasch…and Hans Neuenfels… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review