Opera Australia: Lohengrin – Basic Melbourne

Typically you do win the lottery. When Opera Australia subscribers first signed up for tickets to Wagner’s Lohengrin, little did they know that the nice German tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, could be singing the title function – one for which he’s justly well-known. As charismatic as any Romantic knight in shining armour, his efficiency was astounding in its expressive vary, energy and wonder.

Different components of this Australian premiere of a co-production with Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie had been maybe much less clearly thrilling, however director Olivier Py’s idea was visually hanging and provided appreciable meals for thought. And that’s along with what the composer himself offered. Quite a few questions come up. Why did Py set this manufacturing in a window-shattered theatre with a backstage array of decaying artefacts of German tradition, transposing the motion from mediaeval Brabant to the put up World Struggle II ruins of Berlin? Why did Elsa insist on asking the forbidden query? At the least it’s a quick distance between Py’s idea and the way in which Wagner’s music and concepts have been utilized by the Nazi propaganda machine. The amount and intricacy of Py’s concepts even have their counterpart in  Wagner’s fertile musical creativeness.

In the course of the orchestral Prelude, a looming, four-tiered theatre constructing with jagged damaged home windows slowly revolved, considerably distracting from the delicate higher strings of the grail motif and a few excellent wind taking part in. Equally visually consideration grabbing, the Prelude to Act 3 was accompanied by an acrobatic show carried out by what might be interpreted as a illustration of the right Aryan male – no disintegrating options there! A imaginative and prescient of perfection earlier than a collapsing future, bolstered by slowly descending flakes of ash-like confetti as Lohengrin and Elsa make their solution to the wedding altar?

From the outset, the singing was excellent. Warwick Fyfe’s declamatory model and powerful, gathered tone had been well-suited to his function of Herald. His name for a knight to defend Elsa towards the cost of fratricide was given much more impression by the trumpets positioned on the entrance facet of the gown circle. It was stirring stuff and a part of high-quality work by the expanded brass part all through the night. Daniel Sumegi’s resonant bass baritone and stately presence made him an imposing King Heinrich.

An expanded Opera Australia Refrain, which included a number of acquainted soloists, sang softer sections with heat, completely blended tone and gave vibrant, full-bodied weight to the extra exuberant passages. The various male choruses had been notably spectacular with the opening refrain a shining instance of mellow, unified voices. Even when separated of their little opera bins or window frames, each tenors and basses projected properly and continued to be satisfactorily built-in.

Making his debut in a foremost stage principal function for Opera Australia, Simon Meadows achieved nice private success as Telramund. Rejected as a husband by Elsa and manipulated by his spouse, the evil pagan sorceress Ortrud, Telramund is a spotlight of evil. Meadows captured a lot of the energy and menace of the character, his baritone seeming comfy with the vocal calls for. He gave the chess sport duel with Lohengrin an depth that helped listeners droop disbelief and accommodate conflicts between what they had been listening to and what they had been seeing.

As Ortrud, French-Russian soprano Elena Gabouri was in her factor vocally and dramatically, offering a few of the most riveting moments as her opulent mezzo-soprano soared to passionate heights. Her vibrant emotional and vocal vary, from seductive urgings to vindictive rage, supported what Wagner wrote to his brother, particularly, that Ortrud is the principal function within the work.

Regardless of the great music Wagner wrote for her, Elsa is destined to return throughout as a little bit pale compared. After a generally edgy begin with an intrusive vibrato on the highest notes, American soprano Emily Magee sounded more and more comfy because the opera progressed, her softer singing particularly turning into smoother, rounder and extra alluring. Her duets with Gabouri in Act 2 and with Kaufmann in Act 3 had been most interesting.

For those who had been questioning whether or not the swan would sail off with out the Grail Knight, don’t fear – the swan is symbolically represented by a pile of feathers. On the face of it, which will appear to be a weird thought, and but I do know that I used to be not alone find the moments with the “swan” extremely transferring. The magical Grail music had loads to do with it, after all. After which there have been Kaufmann’s superlative powers of persuasion as he tenderly sifted by the feathers.

No matter reservations there is perhaps relating to Py’s idea, it’s definitely fascinating. Mixed with Pierre-André Weiz’s monumental units, Bertrand Killy’s atmospheric lighting design, and, above all, the wonderful realisation of Wagner’s music beneath the masterful baton of Tahu Matheson, this efficiency of Lohengrin was an unforgettable expertise.

Photograph courtesy Opera Australia.


Heather Leviston reviewed Opera Australia’s efficiency of Richard Wagner’s “Lohengrin”, offered at Arts Centre Melbourne, State Theatre on May14, 2022.