Thursday, September 30, 2010
The following video shows two exciting midpoints and the conclusion of Act I of Wagner's grand opera Lohengrin (1850). Elsa von Brabant has been falsely accused of a grave sin by Friedrich von Telramund. She denies the perfidious charge, and the call goes out for a knight to champion Elsa in combat. The first call goes unheeded. Elsa implores the king for a second call, which goes out, and this too appears to be ignored.
At the very moment when all hope appears to be lost for Elsa, she falls to her knees in prayer, and a commotion begins among the crowd. A knight in a boat drawn by a swan approaches along the river. He disembarks and vows to defend Elsa's honour. The duel begins, and while Friedrich von Telramund is aided by the black arts of the pagan sorceress Ortrund, the knight Lohengrin has God on his side.
These excerpts are from the best currently available video rendition of the opera, with Peter Hofmann as an uncommonly credible Lohengrin (a rare example of a singer who actually looks the part of a Teutonic knight) and Eve Marton as a somewhat too old but nevertheless convincing Elsa.
The definitive complete audio recording of this opera is the 1982 EMI 3CD set featuring the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan.