We would not have dared to think of Lohengrin appearing on the stage of the Paris Opera helmeted and armored cash in its basket magic led by a swan is immaculate. These are the images today that are prohibited in theatres, opera and just good now to adorn the castles dreamt of Louis II of Bavaria.
But we wouldn’t have thought to see it trembling, and curled up on the floor in a fetal position, like a bird fallen from the nest, in the midst of an assembly of the nobility of brabant, which exclaims in discovering, nose in the air and in a direction opposite the swan unseen that brought him here.
Exceeded, crushed by his destiny
As absurd as it is, at least as it is presented in this new production of the Opera, the image of the hero, fragile, overwhelmed, crushed by his destiny, is, however, fully moving : staging more intelligent and subtle would have been able to give this beautiful will of humanity, so touching when she receives a be exceptional.
But that would be without counting with the concepts bounded to the director, incapable, without doubt, want to understand the beauty and the radiance of the wonderful christian that inspired Richard Wagner and Lohengrin, an envoy of the Grail, so the sent of God. Down-to-earth, laden with its dialectic of belated student who thinks of himself above the myths and well-grounded in the real, sinister Claus Guth is permitted to annihilate just about all of the amazing story rewritten by the composer, without depriving sprinkle his staging of allegory a bit heavy and scientific, multiplied to excess.
A Buster Keaton bewildered by his stature of hero
so Here is Jonas Kaufmann, as the depositary ideal for the role of Lohengrin that he played with pain, tenderness and humanity, reduced to the stature of a dud. Transformed into a kind of Buster Keaton distraught by his hero status, never well in its place, wandering from one scene to the other like a lost, hurt fagoté in clothing bourgeois who discover the beginning of overweight, he manages, however, to defeat the invincible, count of Telramund in combat singular, and then to kill him, of a sudden, a single, when the attack treacherously.
His story of the Grail wanted to sublime by the composer and sublimely rendered by the tenor, his pathetic salute to the swan who came to look for after that he had to reveal, are polluted by an end to nonsense that adds woe to woe. With no other legitimacy than the will of a director in the German is refusing to wonderful wanted by Wagner, in order to replace it by a more “political”, a read-brunette-back room of the café du commerce.
This is all the more lamentable that, with the direction of the orchestra, impeccable Philippe Jordan, who led the work beautifully and this from the prelude of the first act performed in a fullness that is only matched by its clarity, with musicians and choirs of the Opéra of Paris at the height of a task that falls here of the sacred, with performers such as Evelyn Herlitzius, dazzling in the evil Ortrud, Tomasz Konieczny as Telramund bitter and hateful, or René Pape, powerful in the role here too paralyzed of king Henry 1 of Germany, the production was able to reach great heights.
His detestation of the providential man
But the director has decided to impose its point of view in spite of common sense and apply to Lohengrin, his detestation of the providential man. A detestation perfectly justified by the Story, and of which we know the dangers, but become absurd in front of a mythological subject.
“We meet incessantly in the works of Richard Wagner”, he writes, “a same pattern repeats itself : a person or a company invents a savior, an idol, a guide to… The problems begin when, after the enthusiasm of the first time, the hero admired leaves way too much to see that it was not supposed to be… When his biography special and authentic is required finally, the whole system to collapse…”
But what may be valid in the reality of the Story has absolutely no classes with Lohengrin ! Thus, when suspected of magic or a sham by those he legitimately defeated, he is forced to reveal his true identity because of the perjury of Elsa of Brabant, nothing collapses, otherwise the latter that he should leave.
quite the contrary, Lohengrin, son of Parsifal, king of the Grail, its connection with the Sky, rises immediately above them all, above the princes, above the kings. That’s not a problem : at a time when the assistance amazed, the king of Germany at its head, is amazed by the miracle that represent the presence of Lohengrin among men and his birth incomparable, the stage director, while his fixed idea, and in spite of all common sense, directs the extras dressed as soldiers operetta pierce the hero of their bayonets and left for dead, at the moment when he should be back to Monsalvat.
This is atterrant, simply atterrant. And a platitude to cry : the image of the spirits heavy, “positive “, refusing to consider that there are wonderful, sublime, in the fate of Lohengrin and cutting back cleanly his story to a dismal failure, when it is above all the failure of Elsa, unable to dominate his inner demons, and the failure of humanity.
A must-see character of seduction
of Course, with Jonas Kaufmann in the title role, a production of “Lohengrin” is a staple character of seduction. When the virtuous knight of the swan, when the savior of Elsa, when the son of Parsifal is embodied by an artist who makes dream and whose voice and countenance know how to give an existence to the heroes, the more light, the opera of wagner may reach peaks of intensity at which one touches, more rarely, with a big fat tenor emperruqué of floss and blonde disguised as envoy to the holy Grail.
However, despite the talents of Kaufmann, in spite of the game ivy Evelyn Herlitzius, an admirable actress, and voice actors, or the vocal power of Tomasz Konieczny, in spite of the direction of Philippe Jordan, and in spite of the presence sometimes a little pale of Martina Serafin, however admirable in the role of Elsa, this production of “Lohengrin” leaves an impression détestablement bitter. A business that, by its distribution, should be beautiful, if it had been conducted by a director from an entirely different dimension, a lifting of the spirit that is here tragically default.
there is a justice : when the Opera’s audience cheered the performers and the conductor on the evening of the first representation, as well as the singers and the musicians of the paris Opera house, he has not spared the boos for the stage director. We would have even dreamed of see it slathered in tar and feathers, a fate once reserved for cheaters.
Raphael de Gubernatis
“Lohengrin”, romantic opera by Richard Wagner. Until February 18, 2017. Paris opera Bastille ; 0892 89 90 90.