Lohengrin - National Theatre Munich, 25 July 2010
There were two Lohengrins in Bavaria on Sunday. I was at the other one. I had time to take in only the first act of the new Bayreuth one (sounded pretty good) on the radio before setting off for another look at Munich's version. I didn't care much for the production itself last year. Richard Jones's silly lego house and class conflict twaddle was if anything even more irritating second time round. It can't help the performers when the audience are tittering away at inappropriate moments, but when Lohengrin arrives with a nodding swan tucked under his arm, or kills Telramund with a wave of his arm, what can you expect?
No Jonas Kaufmann this time round - he was of course in Bayreuth - so we got Robert Dean Smith instead. Though he flagged noticeably in the third act, I warmed unexpectedly to his bright, heroic tone. His acting skillz aren't a patch on Kaufmann's, but I found his voice sat better with the music than Kaufmannn's throaty, baritonal growl. So there.
Anja Harteros reprised her Elsa. She's more womanly-voiced than ideal, but once again sang the part beautifully. There wasn't quite enough contrast between her and Waltraud Meier's Ortrud. I wonder how long Meier can carry on with this role, which now sits rather high for her reduced register. She strained heroically for top notes, but every one fell some distance short. As ever, she was dramatically compelling.
Versatile Evgeny Nikitin is playing Telramund in later runs, but for this evening he was as last year an excellent Heerrufer. Wolfgang Koch was the lightweight but elegantly sung Telramund and Günther Groissböck an underwhelming King Heinrich.
The Munich crowd have perhaps grown tired of ovating Kent Nagano for his recent trials. Though he conducted with more dramatic propulsion than usual, he received only the moderate applause that any decently-handled evening might merit.