Lohengrin

Lohengrin
By Richard Wagner. Melbourne Opera. Director: Suzanne Chaundy. Musical Director: David Kram. Regent Theatre, Melbourne. August 7 – 12, 2017

After a successful Tannhäuser in 2016, Melbourne Opera lifted the bar further with Wagner’s Lohengrin. We knew we were in for a special evening with an ethereal start to the overture, the sixty piece orchestra under the firm baton of David Kram. Having the brass in the boxes at the side of the auditorium added to the excitement.

Then, as the volume increased, the curtain rose to silhouette chorus members standing in front of an angry sky. The video projections, so effective in Tannhäuser, were equally exciting in Lohengrin, adding to the drama. A mist descended and a white swan appeared in the mist for Lohengrin’s entrance. This was all helped by subtle lighting.

There is a lot of chorus singing in this opera, and the augmented Melbourne Opera chorus of seventy distinguished themselves, all thanks to chorus master Raymond Lawrence. The costuming was excellent, and when the chorus were on stage it was alive with colour.

Romanian tenor Marius Vlad returned to sing the title role, and looked and sounded like the ideal hero knight. He never wavered in a very long night of demanding singing, and was a passionate lover.

Melbourne soprano Helena Dix returned from a busy overseas schedule to sing Elsa. As I have not heard her for almost twenty years, I was pleased to hear the warmth and maturity in her tone and observe the depth of her acting.

Icelandic baritone Hrólfur Saemundsson came into his own in the second act with a powerhouse display, while Sarah Sweeting was a powerful Ortrud. Baritone Phillip Calcagno made a welcome return as the Herald, and bass Eddie Muliaumaseali’i was a sonorous King.

This is a long opera, but interest never flagged, due to the direction and the strength of the performers. Congratulations Melbourne Opera.

Graham Ford

Photographer: Robin Halls

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