Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Richard Wagner, Lohengrin - Tiroler Festspiele Erl

Performance 29th July

Another final visit, another final review from the little village Erl with the famous Festival. Erl has also been a regular station on my several trips and so I visited the final performance of this festival. As usual the production was led by Gustav Kuhn himself and was rather simple, plain and focused more on the music than on intensive direction. The stage by Jan Hax Halama also only featured a few little details and mainly involved the staircase that goes down into the stage and several platforms for the choir. The costumes by Lenka Radecky also were some sort of historical and futuristic, but looked very elegant. Especially the two female protagonists looked stunning.
Of course also the musical lead was in the hands of Gustav Kuhn who conducted with a lot of experience which sometimes seemed a bit unexciting. Nevertheless he and the Orchester der Tiroler Festspiele Erl did a good job supporting the singers and gave a solid pleasing performance. I also want to mention the Chorakademie which sounded lovely and really powerful.
Michael Kupfer-Radecky was a luxurious Heerrufer with a strong and slender baritone of a very warm and heroic timbre. He gave a great performance and it would have been nice to hear more of him.
Pavel Kudinov sang a very imperious and profound King Heinrich with a sonorous bass voice. Except of some top notes he gave a really wonderful performance and showed a very understanding portrayal. Especially during the first act he simply gave a lovely performance.
As Telramund we heard Michael Mrosek who seemed a bit troubled by the role. Often he had to shorten notes and the top parts of the role definitely brought him to his limits. He seemed more like a parody than actually really intimidating which is not really helpful for that role.
His wife Ortrud was sung by Mona Somm who seemed not to be in best shape too. I know Somm's powerful instrument quite well after her Brünnhilde and her Isolde, but this evening she did not absolutely convince me. Despite her roaring top notes she did not really show the same strenght in the lower register and simply seemed not totally comfortable with the role. I guess Ortrud simply needs a mezzo with good top and not a dramatic soprano.
Joo Anne Bitter as Elsa is best described as probably the best Elsa I ever heard. Her light but rich soprano voice sounds beautiful and controlled throughout her whole range and she perfectly sang the role without any problematic moments. From her first notes to the very last ones she just gave a marvelous performance and despite her singing also looked beautiful with her long flowing blonde hair. BRAVA!
Johannes Chum on the other hand was a more than problematic Lohengrin. He has a very odd timbre and his diction makes me question the language he is singing in. Consonants were barely recognisable and also the vowels sounded pretty much the same most of the time. As if this was not enough he also had to fight for the whole last act and basically had to scream the last 20 minutes in order to get through the performance. I guess the role is just out of his league.
Alltogether it was still a lovely performance and I did not regret the trip. The Lohengrin in Erl gets 7 stars.
✰- - -
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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