Monday, November 12, 2012

Wagner: Lohengrin – Gran Teatre del Liceu, 2006 (Loved Her, Hated Him)

I was actually doing OK with Peter Konwitschny’s Lohengrin for a while. Costumes, set, situation, check! I accepted the classroom setting with the kids learning about the legend of Lohengrin. Emily Magee was mostly convincing as a (really) young Elsa. She does shy, coy, and cute very well, and I like the idea of placing this “fairy tale” in a context of innocence.

Elsa comes out of the closet.
While Luana DeVol played the bullying schoolgirl well (I would hide from her in the cupboard, too!), she lost me as soon as she opened her mouth. This is not a voice I want to hear at all, let alone coming from a grownup dressed as a little girl. I am always eager to suspend my disbelief, but even I could not get past this “cognitive disconnect.” Please Mommy, make her stop singing. Ultimately, besides Elsa, I liked the Heerrufer and the King the best.

“OK,” I thought, “bear with it. You do love Emily Magee and maybe the Lohengrin (John Treleaven) will be good.” Nope. First of all, I’m not pleased with his voice. Second, I could not really figure out if he was supposed to look like an adult, or just a very big kid, or what. He is wearing a trench coat at his first entrance, and later rolls up his trousers, I guess to be in solidarity with all the kids in short pants.  In act 3, when he was trying to get intimate with Elsa, it was just creepy. 

I did watch the whole DVD, but I don’t think I’d sit through it again. I might listen to EM’s parts again, while keeping my fingers crossed that she records Elsa again.  

I should mention too, that the chorus is a highlight of this performance. And when they are singing, the soloists aren't quite as annoying. 

Meanwhile, I am working my way through the Neuenfels Bayreuth Lohengrin (the one with the rats… mice…rats…whatever.) I am enjoying it, but it’s slow going watching on YouTube. I guess I need to break down and get the DVD. My first exposure to Annette Dasch was via Mozart; she and Klaus Florian Vogt provide a lighter-sounding (kinder, gentler) Elsa and Lohengrin, and that is not a bad thing.

Speaking of Hans Neuenfels, I think I am almost ready to write about his Entführung. Stay tuned!


  1. Thanks for providing these clips from the Liceu; I have toyed with the idea of buying it but have held off because of the Ortrud and Lohengrin. Treleaven has been a blot on too many sets. I have Duvol on the Frosch from Japan and she leaves a lot to be desired. Unfortunately the the konzept doesn't do any favors for the artists; middle aged singers do look strange in children's garb. But Magee is lovely, probably one of the best Elsas. Too bad she wasn't contacted for the Baden Baden taping as Kringelborn is overparted in the ensembles while Magee has absolutely not problem.

    Dasch has come in for some rude comments as well as some praise. I have her in the Rene Jacobs Figaro from Paris. She sings well enough but unfortunately she's more of a Susanna than a Rosina aka Countess. Vogt is wonderful in the Baden set: truly other worldly.

    1. You're welcome! I am quickly becoming a K.F. Vogt fan. I just watched Eva Wagner's Bayreuth Meistersinger, and found him a very convincing Walther. I hate to be a prude, but I found that production annoying and I would like to see Vogt, along with Michael Volle and Franz Hawlata in a more standard, or at least less weird Meistersinger; maybe with Ms. Magee (or Die Röschmann)as Eva!

  2. You may remember that Eva was the first recording that Mx. Magee made--back in the 90's. I don't know if the DVD is related to the CD--I assume that it is, at least partially. I found it a disappointing Meistersinger. Holl is a poor Sachs--he looks and acts and sings as if he wished he were any place but Bayreuth. Seiffert who was a good looking man was entering his barrel shaped phase. They tried to mask it with an overblouse but it doesn't work and Wolfgang's sets are anitseptic and cold. Alas Magee sounds tentative and ill at ease. Very disappointing since she could have been a great Eva al;though God knows she trumps the Eva in Thielemann's Vienna set--Ricarda Merbeth: Ghastly.

    At this stage I would hope for Jonas, Rene Pape (Sachz) and Harteros or our favorite Swedish soprano Hartelius!


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