Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Lohengrin

Dr. Bob Prescribes Richard Wagner, Lohengrin revisited – Part One

Both Music History Monday (for August 28) and Dr. Bob Prescribes (for August 29) were dedicated to Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin. That Dr. Bob Prescribes post examined three traditional video performances of the opera, and ultimately recommended a Bayreuth Festival performance recorded in 1982, featuring Peter Hofmann as The Mystery Man in Silver (Lohengrin), Karan Armstrong as Elsa; Elizabeth Connell as Ortrud; and Leif Roar as Telramund; the production conducted by Woldemar Nelsson. Back on August 29, I wrote: “The recommended Peter Hofmann/Bayreuth Festival performance of Lohengrin is, in my estimation, the best traditional staging of the opera currently available on video. But it is not my favorite performance available on video, not by a long shot.” As it turns out, that favorite video performance is an “updated” (though not absurdly so) production that was recorded in Baden-Baden in 2006, featuring the cast listed above and conducted by Kent Nagano. Here’s what I really like about this Nagano-led performance. Lohengrin is a fairytale: it’s my experience that various Knights of the Holy Grail do not typically “show up” in little boats pulled by bewitched swans in times of dire need. In fact, they do not show up at all, whether by […]

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Music History Music: Richard Wagner – Lohengrin

Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin received its premiere in the Thuringian (central German) city of Weimar on August 28, 1850: 173 years ago yesterday. Conducted by Weimar’s Kapellmeister – the extraordinary Franz Liszt (1811-1886) himself – the premiere was a smash and Lohengrinhas remained a pillar of the operatic repertoire since. As we observed in yesterday’s Music History Monday – which offered up a synopsis of Lohengrin’s action – the opera contains a thinly-veiled paean to German national virtue. But more than that, it is an Adam-and-Eve-like story of temptation and the power of evil to make an otherwise innocent person act on temptation, to disastrous consequences. The action of the opera revolves around two couples: one good, one bad, and an ugly situation. Couple Number One: The Good. Elsa is the Duchess of Brabant, living in what is today the Belgian city of Antwerp. “The Nameless Knight in Silver” (a.k.a. Lohengrin) is Elsa’s mysterious savior, who shows up in Antwerp in a little boat drawn by a swan, there to act as Elsa’s champion against the scoundrel who has accused her of killing her own brother. Couple Number Two: The Bad. That scoundrel is Telramund, a once-honorable nobleman. The puppet-master behind […]

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