Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lohengrin at La Scala – Impressions from the Cinema

Not surprisingly, one picks up a lot more of an opera performance when sitting attentively in the theater and paying attention to the screen; not checking email; not looking up odd words in the subtitles; not googling the baritone to see what else he’s done, etc. There was a post not long ago over at operaramblings about this phenomenon. 

This production is way more powerful than it was on YT. Guth’s ideas about this story are predictably dark, but not necessarily as weird as some of his other productions.

On the big(ger) screen, I found Act 1 least engaging. It looks and sounds like only half the chorus was offstage.  The chorus is not as spot-on as I’d hoped, perhaps because of the staging – Guth seems either to be at a loss with blocking large groups or just doesn’t like to do it. He frequently has them just standing about in some stodgy formation. He seems to save his dramatic energy for the soloists, which of course is not a terrible thing! The La Scala Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim, on the other hand, is sharp and superb. Speaking of sound, I thought I was having a hearing problem, but the audio on the copy we saw clearly was compressed, as if for TV broadcast. Bits that should have been overwhelmingly loud seemed to get cut back suddenly (and not subtly). This attenuated some of the dramatic musical effects.

The more intimate scenes were more effective.  Act 2 is so well acted: Ortrud is terrifying with Telramund; and when she turned on the charm with Elsa, it made me giggle a bit (but quietly…I don’t think you’re supposed to laugh during Lohengrin!) Another reviewer was less thrilled with the voices of the villains, but I appreciate a soprano Ortrud who does not go all squally and shouty at the end. I know she’s really annoyed, but…I don’t know, I think Ortrud can sound annoyed without sounding ugly. (Even though I love Petra Lang, I really don’t care for her sound in those final lines. Scary!) I believe Tómas Tómasson had a cold or the flu, but I thought he did a great job in spite of it. 

I’ve already praised JK and AD’s contributions to the performance. It'd be hard to match Herr Kaufmann's killer combo of drama and musicality. And no, Frau Dasch is not the classic Wagnerian soprano, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Rene Pape was, as always, regal and musical.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are very welcome! They won't be moderated; but rude, abusive, and/or radically off-topic posts will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...