Friday, 15 August 2014

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 9th August

This year I also had my Bayreuth debut with the Hans Neuenfels production of Lohengrin (set and costumes: Reinhard von der Thannen). Andris Nelsons conducted the Festspielorchester and the Festspielchor with great finesse and accuracy. The incredibly mystirious acustics of the Festspielhaus gave the orchestral sound an additional spheric dimension. Although you were not able to see him conducting Nelsons obviously did a very good job supporting the dramatic plot with the music and carrying the singers throughout the performance.
Wilhelm Schwinghammer was a very young König Heinrich but still gave a good performance. Only his deep notes could have been a little bit more profound and stronger. His acting was good although I did not like the idea of making Heinrich seem like a weak king. Anyway, Samuel Youn (who also sings the dutchman in Bayreuth) sang the king's herald and did a pretty good job aswell. Nevertheless I can not imagine him as a proper dutchman but of course I did not see him, so I cannot really judge on that.
Thomas J. Mayer gave a good performance as Friedrich von Telramund and showed a more dramatic side of himself than he did as Barak in Leipzig. I really liked that he is capable of singing Telramund very dramatic and strong while his Barak was very lyric and beautifully sung. This shows how versatile his voice is and also his acting was very satisfying.
Petra Lang was this evening's highlight with her unbelievably strong dramatic (mezzo-) soprano. Her voice has enormous power in every register and she surely knows how make a big impact and how to sing Wagner properly. The beginning of the second act was just mindblowing and her "Entweihte Götter" was a epitome of excitement and force. In my opinion she was the best performer of the evening although the average was very high in general.
Edith Haller, who jumped in for Annette Dasch, had to deal with high expectations because I was really looking forward to see Dasch as Elsa. But I have to say, she did not disappoint me with her very delicate but still very strong lyric dramatic soprano. Her voice sounds a little bit less dramatic than Dasch's rendition but also does not have the dramatic charisma of Dasch. Anyway she gave a great performance throughout the evening. Only the two high bs in the third act seemed to be a little bit forced and she was not able to keep them in the phrases.
Klaus Florian Vogt as Lohengrin was also incredible. He might not seem like a proper Wagner tenor but the role of Lohengrin clearly suits him quite well. He combines light delicate piano singing with a strong but still pure powerful sound in the dramatic scenes. Also optically he is a very appropriate Lohengrin and did not disappoint me at any point of the performance. He makes this role look very easy although he seemed a little bit more exhausted during the final act but still he sang very beautifully and did not fail to impress me.Well-deserved he got the most applause in the end.
Finally my first Bayreuth experience was really great and I hope to get there next year again.
The performance gets 9 stars.

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