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James A. Altena
Fanfare, November 2012

Originally released by Image Entertainment, this excellent production of Lohengrin is now being rereleased by Arthaus. It is, far and away, the best version of the opera on DVD… The sets and costumes are what might be described as “minimalist traditionalism”; that is to say, the sets and costumes evoke the original setting of the opera (10th-century Flanders), but have an abstract sparseness that reflects the influential aesthetic of Bayreuth in the early post-World War II era. Props are minimal but effective…

The singing is generally quite good…Plácido Domingo is clearly the star and in excellent form…Cheryl Studer is a solid…Elsa…her voice is always secure and she does quite well by her passionate outburst in the bridal-chamber scene. Harmut Welker is likewise a sturdy Telramund…Robert Lloyd is a predictably magnificent King Heinrich, and Georg Tichy is such a fine Herald…with the lustrous sound of the Vienna Philharmonic at [Claudio Abbado’s] disposal, he produces a warmer performance than usual, assured and well proportioned…The video and sound quality are eminently satisfactory. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Robert Levine, August 2012

…Placido Domingo’s Lohengrin is the most sheerly beautiful on disc. His legato is ravishing, the high notes ring, his commitment and concentration are never less than 100 percent. Others have complained about his German pronunciation; my knowledge of German is rudimentary enough not to notice or care. It’s a stunning performance.

In addition to Domingo’s performance, Claudio Abbado’s leadership almost makes this set a must. Approaching it from an Italianate point of view, he gets a gloriously transparent reading of the score; it shimmers when it should and has the requisite energy and spectacular brass for the grander, public moments. Both picture and sound are excellen… © 2012 Read complete review

Robert Benson, July 2012

This Vienna State Opera production of Lohengrin dates from 1990, and this is its second release on DVD. It is a winner in every way. What a pleasure it is to watch Claudio Abbado before his major health problems; he leads a lyrical, warm performance, and the cast is near-perfect. Plácido Domingo is assured in the title role in one of his earliest ventures into Wagner. Sensible direction is by Wolfgang Weber, with appropriate beautiful sets by Rudolf and Reinhard Heinrich. Brian Large was in charge of video and did his usual excellent job. Video and audio are adequate. This is visually compelling, a superb presentation of Wagner’s masterpiece… © 2012

Anne Shelley
Music Media Monthly, July 2012

The dark and simple staging conveys very well the dreariness of the Middle Ages, and provides no distraction from the luscious singing. Placido Domingo’s sparkle catches your attention from the moment of his arrival, and he hits it out of the park with Act III’s “Höchstes Vertrau’n.” As Elsa, Cheryl Studer sings so sweetly…The consistently imperfect intervals from the brass and low strings and occasional roughness of the chorus fit with the rustic production. If you don’t already have this disc in your collection, run, don’t walk to pick up your copy. © 2012 Music Media Monthly Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2012

A reissue of the live recording of Wolfgang Weber’s production of Lohengrin taken from the stage of the Vienna Opera in 1990 and originally intended for television. Headed by the conductor, Claudio Abbado, it had gathered together all of the most highly regarded singers from the work’s outstanding audio recordings. The name character was taken by Plácido Domingo in one of his earliest Wagner roles, and he brings dignity backed by a smooth lyric tonal quality that is a long way from the barked sounds of many heldentenors, though he visually cannot quite achieve the approved Wagnerian scowl. Maybe his first entry, with a projected massive swan behind him, would even bring a smile to the face of a Hollywood film director, but otherwise this is generally an unfussy production with the time and period of the story coming from the costumes. In Cheryl Studer, we have a gorgeous voice that can float notes without stress, and if you visualise the purity of Elsa coming from her regal stature, then she is also ideal in that portrayal. Helmut Welker is a menacing Frederick, the wide vibrato we hear on the studio recording rather masked by his excellent visual acting as he denounces Elsa as a murderess. Certainly his voice has that projection to reflect the second act wrong that he felt had been done. I don’t suppose you could more perfectly cast Ortrud than in the hands of Dunja Vejzovic. Any man’s knees would turn to jelly when confronted by this battle-axe of a woman, and with just a nod from her, Frederick enters into a fight the poor man knows he cannot win. And so the story goes on, with Ortrud eventually invading Elsa’s mind to the extent that she makes the fatal mistake of asking her champion who he is, the one question, he tells her from the outset, that she must never pose. It leads to one of the most dramatic moments in opera when he reveals that he is Lohengrin, son of Parsifal. It is a passage that Domingo sings with such power and sadness. Abbado’s tempos throughout are generally quick; the Vienna orchestra is in good shape and the chorus is excellent. It was, in its day, another operatic triumph for video director, Brian Large, and if it is becoming dated in sound and colour quality, this is an historic document of outstanding importance, though sadly the enclosed documentation never offers one word to that fact. You will find that on our normal wide-screen televisions you have the two black stripes down each side that were once a fact of life. The two discs come at the price of one. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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