Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Baden-Baden, enjoying the highly acclaimed and praised performance of Wagner's Lohengrin by Nikolas Lehnhoff, conducted by Kent Nagano. This was the third and last performance in Baden-Baden, I don't know, if the participating operas (Lyon (Opera National) and Milano (Scala)) will host this performance also. If yes, go there! Or if any of these performances will lead to a DVD (which I would welcome!).
We again did prepare us by watching and listening to older videos and CDs of former performances, and by also listening to the introductory lectures given by Stefan Mickisch
. We can highly recommend his CDs, they are fun listening to, and do provide a profound introduction to the theme and the music. The sad thing is: They are german only. But, those who love Wagner should also be able to understand german, at least a bit...
We also have to report some sad news: Yesterday, both Waltraud Meier and Klaus Florian Vogt (Ortrud and Lohengrin) were sick, and were not allowed to sing. Waltraud was replaced by Anette Bod, and Klaus Florian did the acting, and Stuart Skelton did the singing from the right side of the stage. Stuart was the Parsifal in Frankfurt (check my former blog
), and we both agreed, that his voice was much better yesterday during his performance of Lohengrin, then during his performance of Parsifal. Although I'm not a fan of Waltraud, my feeling w.r.t. the performance of Anette was: She was "shrieking" to much. OK, this is also attributed to the role, but still, I hadn't been completely convinced by her performance. But we missed Klaus Florian most, because he was praised that much (and I saw small snippets of his performance in TV shows in the last two days, which were really convincing!), and we were eager to listen to his performance. But: People (and singers) are human, and sickness can happen to anybody.
Putting these sad things aside, let's look at the overall thing:
First: Kent Nagano made his orchestra, the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, perform clear and precise. I was able to hear things. I never heard before! This also made hear-able discrepencies, and tensions, that some other performances try to neglect.
Second: The setting was more modern, and as such allowed to concentrate more on the emotional problems the characters have (Elsa, for one: The driven, the victim). This also reflected in the movements of the people (not that much of "showing", but more "human").
Third: Singing was great, best yesterday was Tom Fox as Friedrich von Telramund.
Forth: The scenery fitted well with this "modern" setup. They placed a chair (backward facing) and a lecturn on a round plate, surrounded by an amphitheatre, so that all people "talking" were standing behind the lecturn and "announcing" their things and thoughts. This made the impression of a university setting from the 19th century. This was convincing, as we are dealing with a "high court". The second movement had a stair-flight, which fitted well with the actions, and the third movement returned to the amphitheatre setting.
Short: We loved it!