Posted May 20, 2016

Posted May 20, 2015

Here is a first hand account of the Dresden role debuts of Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala as Elsa and Lohengrin. The report comes from WSNC Member Michael Foden who is taking in a lot of Wagner in Germany, having just seen the Leipzig Ring among other performances.

“Russian superstar soprano Anna Netrebko made her much-anticipated Wagnerian debut as Elsa in LOHENGRIN last night at the Semper Oper here in Desden. It was a thrilling evening with a nearly ideal cast, virtuosic orchestral contributions and masterful conducting in a lucid, traditional production.

Netrebko’s debut was a partial success, and one imagines that as she becomes more comfortable in subsequent performances she will improve her overall contributions. As to last night, her work looked, and sounded, effortful, with some notable problems in the middle register. She improved into the second act, and delivered a solid final confrontation with Lohengrin in the last. The voice is large enough, and when she relaxes, it can be quite lovely.

The evening’s biggest surprise was the revelatory performance of Polish tenor Piotr Beczala, whom many doubted when announced for the role. His was a true triumph, bringing beautiful Italianate sound and clarion tone to this demanding role.

Tomasz Konieczny (our Wotan in 2013 Vienna Ring) was a thrilling Telramund, with a gorgeous deep baritone. Evelyn Herlitzius was less successful as his wife Ortrud, delivering much of the same unsupported screeching we heard in her Isolde last year in Bayreuth.

The balance of the cast was superb, particularly Georg Zeppenfeld’s luscious bass as Heinrich.

Lohengrin is Wagner’s greatest choral work, and the magnificent Staatsoper Dresden chorus was absolutely thrilling. Virtuosic performances by the Staatskapelle Dresden in the pit (with brass choirs placed throughout the house) were icing on this lovely cake.

Maestro Christian Thielemann, one of the best Wagnerian conductors today, gave us a luscious, transparent, and reverent reading of this magnificent score. The traditional, lucid production was greatly appreciated. Here, a swan is a swan, and a sword a sword.

A great evening in the theatre that shall long be remembered” – Michael Foden

Thank you Michael for allowing us to post this report

Photo courtesy of Semper Oper Dresden