Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 14th February

It is always difficult to stage Lohengrin due to its hilariously pathetic plot. Some parts really seem totally inappropriate and totally over the top. So it is quite hard to create a production that really finds a way to make everything seems reasonable. Kaspar Holten definitely did a great job with his production at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Together with Steffen Aarfing (stage and costumes) he created a production that shows Lohengrin as politician who proclaims to be a hero that is sent by god. In this interpretation Elsa is becoming the real hero by not trusting a man who just searches a way to the top. All this might sound difficult to convert into a proper production but Holten and Aarfing kept close to the libretto which sometimes really convincingly agrees to their interpretation. The great scenery and the costumes from several eras looked marvelously and supported the plot very well. This really is a production that shows intellect and appreciation by the creative team.
Musically Donald Runnicles also did a great job leading the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin. He found the perfect balance between delicate parts and dramatic outbursts. The orchestra was in top form and especially the interlude in the third act with trumpets and snares divided within the auditorium was incredibly impressive. What a huge wall of sound!!
The Chor (und Extra-Chor) der Deutschen Oper Berlin sometimes seemed to be not totally synchronous but gave a solid performance during the whole evening. Especially the final act was performed really well.
Vocally the cast was just magnificent. Bastiaan Everink sang the role of the Heerrufer and showed a very strong heroic but still youthful baritone voice. I'm pretty sure that he will sing some proper main roles very soon with this beautiful voice.
Albert Pesendorfer was called indisposed but sounded lovely. If that is how he sounds ill I really want to know how he sounds when he is totally healthy. Such a powerful dignified voice that sounds heroic without having a rough unfriendly timbre.
Thomas Johannes Mayer's Telramund is not new to me because I already heard him singing this role in Bayreuth in 2014. He still does a very good job though I personally would wish for a darker lower voice for this role. Anyway he is a marvelous singer and as I said he did a great job.
Due to the fact that Anna Smirnova had some issues at the airport Petra Lang (rehearsing Sieglinde in Dresden at the moment) jumped in as Ortrud. Also not new to me in this role she did not fail to impress me once again. I heard her as Brünnhilde in december which was not really her role in my opinion but her Ortrud is a force of nature. The power, the dramatic feeling and her stage presence are incredible and this role totally hers.
Nevertheless my personal highlight was Rachel Willis-Sørensen as Elsa. I was genuinely blown away by her flawless performance. Her soprano is very dark but shiny and bright in the top register. The power is immense and still she has an incredible beauty of tone. I really cannot name any deficits because her voice obviously was made to sing Elsa and other Wagner roles.
Another great performance was done by Michael Weinius as the title hero Lohengrin. He also has a powerful Wagnerian voice with a very heroic timbre but is still able to manage the very soft parts that Lohengrin also has to sing. Interestingly in his lower register his voice totally reminded me of Siegfried Jerusalem. His performance was really good, only some of the top notes could have been a little longer. Anyway he seems to be one of the best performers of this role nowadays I would say.
As I already wrote this whole performance was a real eye-(and ear-)opener and I was extremely happy that I decided to see it because it was totally worth it. And therefor I give full 10 stars to this great performance.

Reviewed by Daniel Url

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