Curses, almost a week since Lohengrin opened — with the next show only two days away — and I still haven't written a word about it.
Well, here's one word: magic.
And here are some more. Opening night was brilliant. I'd been to a few rehearsals, but I'd only ever seen chunks of individual acts. Never the whole show, never with the full setand never with everyone in costume. Such is life in a Wiederaufnahme. I'd never even seen the swan — but that, as it turned out, was a piece of excellent luck. Its arrival was breathtaking, its revelation of the young prince at the end even more so (I cried...) and I was so glad not to have had either surprise spoilt ahead of time.
The set in all its glory is showing its age here and there but this I forgive, given that it's a year and a day older than me. I don't look like I did in 1983 either. It's still very grand and, I have to say, it really is a joy to see an old-fashioned show, with knights in armour and swords and ladies in brocade and all that stuff. After nine months of Wozzecks and non-literal Parsifals, excellent though they've all been, it's nice to spend a little time with a Lohengrin that's jumped straight out of a storybook.
I wish I could point you to a review somewhere for a (comparatively) unbiased take on the singing, but alas, no critic seems to have seen fit to cover this show yet. What I can say is that Marjorie Owens and Tichina Vaughn both made auspicious débuts as Elsa and Ortrud respectively; that Georg Zeppenfeld is one heck of a King Henry; that Hans-Joachin Ketelsen's Telramund is also mighty; and that The Tenor in my Life surprised even me with his Lohengrin.
So, yes, incredibly partial comments to follow, but: I hang around him every day, and I still have no idea he how sings so gloriously, so powerfully or for so long. And for all the miraculousness of his Parsifals this year (not to mention everything else), I think last Sunday's Lohengrin is basically the coolest, jawdroppingest and most virtuosic bit of singing I've seen him do since Peter Grimes in Sydney two years ago. Biased I may be, but I ain't deaf, and I don't expect ever to hear Lohengrin sung much better than that.
And I must be on to something, because the response which greeted both the cast as a whole and my own Grail Knight suggested everyone else was as impressed as I was. There was massive applause at the end of every act and for every cast member. There was cheering, and foot-stomping, and the first bow of Lohengrin himself sparked a standing ovation which eventually spread throughout the stalls and into much of the upper levels. Erik Nielsen, the excellent conductor who took over at short notice for an indisposed Adam Fischer, also received his share of wild acclaim.
It was one of those electrically charged evenings, both in silene while the show was in swing and in the clamour when it stopped. All the more impressive when you think that we're talking about a revival which opened on a Sunday afternoon: not exactly a Gala Night. Yet it frequently felt like one. Like I say. Magic.