Wagner: Lohengrin

Wagner: Lohengrin, EuroArts,  Bayreuther Festspiele, dirigent Woldemar Nelsson, Peter Hofmann, Karan Armstrong  ★★★★★
Issued in 2005 but actually performed in 1982, this opera follows traditional forms, with staging by Götz Friedrich. All in all, splendidly done. Hofmann is a better Lohengrin than Placido Domingo, in the other DVD copy of Lohengrin that I possess. It would be the choice of Lohengrin’s for the first-time buyer of this opera. Some may question that this also was a bizarre plot and that I unjustly attack early 19th-century Italian opera. That is simply not the case, as German opera has a much different character than Italian, including the almost universal use of magic or the supernatural. This is true in Mozart’s, Beethoven’s, von Weber’s, Wagner’s, and even later Richard Strauss’s operas. Note that character development is quite full in the Wagner operas, compared to that of Donizetti, Bellini, or even the English light opera of Gilbert and Sullivan, where all you really learn about the person is that “He is an Englishman”. Whoopee. Lohengrin is not the greatest of the Wagner operas, but certainly shows a path to his later mature works, including Der Ring, Tristan und Isolde, and Parzifal.