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Lohengrin review at Royal Opera House London

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Elijah Moshinsky’s 1977 production of Wagner’s opera returns in fine fettle, with John Napier’s simple but atmospheric designs still successfully conjuring a vision of medieval chivalry, bound into a conflict between the dying pagan world and a half-mystical, half-superstitious Christianity.

Notable in this revival is the fact that the score is presented without cuts, including one made by Wagner himself before the opera’s premiere. In this version, Lohengrin’s Act III Narration is twice as long as usual, which can only be done given a tenor with the necessary resources to keep pumping out the tone at a late stage in a long evening. Fortunately Johan Botha’s Swan Knight meets such requirements, offering a performance in which his ample, silvery voice is never compromised. He’s also been cleverly costumed to present him to his best advantage.

Edith Haller’s Elsa tires slightly, and her characterisation seems unduly passive for a visionary, yet the bulk of her performance presses the right vocal buttons. Genuinely exciting are the baddies – Petra Lang’s imperious Ortrud well-matched by Gerd Grochowski’s tensile Telramund – and the vital roles of King Heinrich and his Herald are secure in the empowered performances of Kwangchul Youn and Boaz Daniel.

Making a welcome return to Covent Garden is conductor Semyon Bychkov, whose expansive, finely-balanced reading brings the grand climaxes swinging clearly into view and whose comprehensive articulation of the score allows the individual acts to unfold in vast paragraphs.

Production Information

Royal Opera House, London, April 27-May 16

Elijah Moshinsky, Andrew Sinclair
Royal Opera
Johan Botha, Edith Haller, Petra Lang, Gerd Grochowski, Kwangchul Youn, Boaz Daniel
Running time
4hrs 50mins

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