No. Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten you. Although at this point, the bigger question is perhaps whether you've forgotten me. I hope not. Anyway, here I am, for once. Possibly not at massive length but something is better than nothing – at least it is for my blogging conscience – so I have at last dredged up something worth writing about.
Dredged may be the wrong verb. As some of you will know from Facebook and/or Twitter, I've been in Los Angeles for the last three weeks. And while much of my time has been devoted to terrible American television (much of it forensic) and a citywide search for burgers, fries and Fifties decor, I've also put in a number of hours watching rehearsals for LA Opera's new Lohengrin, which opened on Saturday night.
Watching a show come together like this has been a mostly interesting, sometimes hilarious and occasionally dull (thank heavens for an iPhone full of games) experience. It's my first time seeing things from this side, and I have to say, the different point of view is fascinating – and makes me doubt my own perceptiveness as a reviewer even more. Well, not exactly. But it is curious to see how differently one perceives the final product when one has seen precisely what's gone into it. Like sausages. In good ways and bad, dare I say.
And since I'm not yet entirely jaded, it's also been pretty wonderful getting to consort with the likes of Ben Heppner, Soile Isokoski, Dolora Zajick and Kristin Sigmundsson. Starry cast, as you can see. Soile Isokoski in particularly has had me quite enchanted; we all know I'm a soprano addict, and while Soile's is not a voice I'd fallen madly for on disc, in person it's heavenly and exactly my cup of tea. She's also just as lovely offstage, which is always a nice bonus. Ben Heppner is, well, Ben Heppner, super cool in all kinds of ways. Kristin Sigmundsson is about ten feet tall and born to sing royalty (he's our King Henry), Eike Wilm Schulte (the Herald) is a model for all singers, still in amazing voice at 71 years of age, and Dolora Zajick's Ortrud is a hurricane or a whirlwind or some other similarly scary force of nature.
I can't say I'm one hundred percent on board with the production concept, which sets the opera in World War I, with Lohengrin as a resurrected amputee soldier with silver prosthetic leg. But I'll leave the dissection or otherwise to those better qualified and/or entitled. Unreserved praise, however, for James Conlon and his orchestra. It's just so nice hearing a great band in a proper pit. Plus Maestro Conlon has quite a way with his Wagner. Not that I have any other live Lohengrin to compare with – indeed this has been more or less my introduction to the opera as a whole – but I have a feeling it was a good way to start.
And while the sheer time I've now spent observing the nitty gritty of the opera means I've probably had my fill of it for the time being – except the second performance, which I'll see next week before flying home – this has still been a pretty excellent (and definitely educational) foray into an opera I previously barely knew, and now wake up humming.