Wagner’s "Lohengrin" at the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Danish director Kasper Holten’s production of "Lohengrin" premiered at the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 2012. It definitely keeps with modern times as well, since it is quite minimalistic, though multi-dimensional. Medieval costumes combine here with the 20-century military uniform; Lohengrin, a Holy Grail knight, adored by citizens of Antwerp, serves as a powerful political leader, while feministic Elsa fights for independence and revealing the painful truth about her "champion". The ideas mentioned do not lie on the surface of the production, but you surely get the impression of "fakeness" observing the way this saint-like hero treats women, rather arrogantly and abusively maintaining control over Elsa’s thoughts and beliefs and violently pushing Ortrud away. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the latter one deserves a great deal of contempt, but not in a manner like this.
Klaus Florian Fogt’s looks let him embody the image of a dream-like knight easily, while his voice, silvery, shining and youthful, adds a certain "out of this world" fleur to the whole notion of Lohengrin. However, in a number of moments the singer sounded too light and insubstantial, tending to lose the right voice position, breaking high notes with abruptness and emitting some of them with a lot of pressure on his vocal chords. It goes without saying, Lohengrin has been Fogt’s "comme il faut" role for decades, and the audience worships him a lot.
As for Rachel Willis-Sørensen who portrayed Elsa, at first, she struck the public with her elegant legato line, accompanied by the softness and tenderness of her voice. However, by the end of the performance, which had lasted by that time for about 3 hours, she started to sound weary and a little bit screechy on top.
Petra Lang as Ortrud, favourably, did not sound like a stereotype mezzo with a dark, meaty voice coming somewhere out of a stomach. She acted passionately, stealing the show from time to time, and sang with a good taste for Wagnerian music.
When it comes to the orchestra under the baton of Donald Runnicles, one should mention a few of their outstanding merits – a celestial prelude, in Wagner’s words, played "like streams of gold, ravishing the senses of the beholder", the consistent dynamic volume of the composition and a fountain of melodically coloured sounds through the whole performance.