Viewers around the world have an opportunity to watch Wagner’s Lohengrin this weekend, either in the cinema or at home, as the Metropolitan Opera presents the latest in its award-winning Live in HD series.
This new production by internationally renowned French director François Girard is led by Met Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin who, according to the Montreal Gazette, has “The world at his fingertips”. This production stars Polish tenor Piotr Beczala in “a shining musical performance” of the title role, which he performs with “uncanny serenity” and “total security and elegance” according to the New York Times. The virtuous duchess Elsa is portrayed by American soprano Tamara Wilson, alternating between “innocent spaciness, steely resolve, and moments of radiance …” (The Wall Street Journal).
The cunning sorceress Obtrude is American soprano Christine Goerke of whom the Houston Examiner writes: “A voice like hers comes once in a generation…” and whom music writer Robert Levine describes as “now arguably the finest Wagnerian soprano in the world”. Ortrud’s power-hungry husband Telramund is Russian bass-baritone Evgeny Nikitin. Celebrated Austrian bass Günther Groissböck is King Heinrich, and American baritone Brian Mulligan is Heinrich, the king’s messenger. Baritone Christopher Maltman hosts the broadcast.
The original opera Lohengrin was set in Antwerp around the year 930. Wagner wrote his own libretto, as he did for all his operas, and based it on a medieval legend which has been recounted in several places, including in the poem Parzival by Wolfram von Eschenbach (c 1160–1220). In this production, director François Girard has placed the action in an abstract setting which is both contemporary and fantastical, based on the legend about a mystical knight who helps an oppressed maiden. He marries her, but forbids her to ask his origin or his name. When she later forgets this promise, he leaves her, never to return.
Lohengrin, which remained Wagner’s most performed opera for decades, was premiered at the Deutsches Nationaltheater in Weimar on August 28, 1850, with Wagner’s friend Franz Liszt leading the Staatskapelle Weimar. Several parts of the score have become well known away from the opera house, and have been used in film scores and orchestral pieces – the Wedding Chorus being one popular example.
This is Girard’s third Wagner production for the Met, and follows his productions of Parsifal in 2013 and Der Fliegende Holländer in 2020. He collaborates on Lohengrin with Academy Award-winning artist and designer Tim Yip. The Live in HD presentation is directed by Gary Halvorson.
This transmission of Wagner’s Lohengrin can be seen in cinemas on Saturday, March 18, at 12.00 pm ET. More information, and details on how to find your local screening, can be found on the Metropolitan Opera website.
For audiences who do not live near a participating cinema, Lohengrin will also be available on the The Met: Live at Home platform, which offers a livestream or on-demand viewing for seven days following the performance.
Information sourced from:
Metropolitan Opera program notes