Monday, 6 June 2016

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin - Semperoper Dresden

Performance 29th May

I had the enormous pleasure to see the final performance of the current Lohengrin run at the Semperoper Dresden which was highly anticipated because of the phenomenal cast. I have to say I rarely heard such intensive applause (already after the first act) before.
The production of Christine Mielitz is over 30 years old and really conventional and a bit cheesy. You could tell by the conduction of the roles that it is quite old even thought the choir parts were positioned quite effectively. The stage and the historical costumes (Peter Heilein) looked very beautifully and elegantly. Especially the second act was better simply because of the wonderful majestic scenery.
Christian Thielemann led his orchestra, the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, and showed why they are known for their distinct sound. He really is the leading conductor for Wagner at the moment and the Staatskapelle played marvelously. The range of different colours and timbres was simply magnificent. The Semperopernchor also sounded brilliantly that evening with a great dynamic range from the most intimate piano to the majestic choir scenes in the second act.
Derek Welton sang a very refined Heerrufer with his youthful heroic baritone voice. He definitely is on a good way and might be doing bigger roles soon. Georg Zeppenfeld as Heinrich gave a solid performance as always. I actually even thought that this role suits his noble dignified bass voice better than Hunding for example. His singing suits the role of a kind exceptionally well and the audience loved his performance.
Tomasz Konieczny gave his debut as Telramund and did a great job. His voice managed the high parts of the role really impressively without lacking the necessary darkness and dramatic power in the lower register. I thought he was brilliant and a very appropriate casting choice.
I have never really been a fan of Evelyn Herlitzius and her ruptured voice, but I have to say that her Ortrud was really amazin. Not necessarily because of her vocal performance, but because of her incredibla acting skills. Every single look has a meaning and she rules the stage without making any noise. Of course also the stamina of her voice is impressive, but the sound is just not very pleasant and the transitions everything but smooth. However her performance suited the role wonderfully and I have to admit that it was a pleasure to see her.
Of course the most anticipated performance was given by Anna Netrebko as Elsa making her Wagner debut. Of course I do not have to write about her voice, because everyone knows that it is powerful, beautiful and gained a lot of weight, especially in the lower register. The interesting thing is her interpretation. She sang her Elsa quite verismo-like and her German (which many people were worried about) was very clear, even over articulated. I think that she needs to do it more often and get into this music a bit more, because this run obviously came with a lot of pressure. Her performance was wonderful, but could need some refinement, which will surely come with time passing by.
The other awaited debut was given by Piotr Beczala in the title role. His voice has the power and surprisingly now also the heroic timbre needed for the role. The bright timbre and his beautiful legato phrasing are simply perfect for the role. Only the very top register could be a bit more heroic, but I am sure this will happen soon. I have never heard a Lohengrin of such vocal quality and he will definitely go on doing it and work on it. The only thing that was a bit odd is his acting which seems at least as old-fashioned as the production itself.
Alltogether it might have been a very unusual performance, but definitely a highly professional performance that was totally worth seeing it. Therefor I would give 9 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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