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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building Production
The weird building a house take on this production will either turn you off or you go with it. It's worth going with for the music performances. The cast all seem to be young and sound and look good. Kaufmann is a star. Not sure he always looks happy about what he is doing but that voice. His third act aria In Ferne Land is brilliant...no wonder Bayreuth hired him. The...
Published on 2 Nov 2010 by James

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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great soloists, but disappointing in other respects
I doubt if it's possible to field a better cast for this beautiful opera, these days, than this one. Jonas Kaufmann stands comparison with the best of his predecessors in the title role. Anja Harteros is excellent as Elsa. Evgeny Nikitin, recently a notable Amfortas, is possibly wasted as the Herald, but certainly has an impressive presence and imposing voice. Where I...
Published on 5 Nov 2010 by O. G. M. Morgan


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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great soloists, but disappointing in other respects, 5 Nov 2010
By 
O. G. M. Morgan (Hants, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I doubt if it's possible to field a better cast for this beautiful opera, these days, than this one. Jonas Kaufmann stands comparison with the best of his predecessors in the title role. Anja Harteros is excellent as Elsa. Evgeny Nikitin, recently a notable Amfortas, is possibly wasted as the Herald, but certainly has an impressive presence and imposing voice. Where I take issue with this production is in its incomprehensible staging. Apparently, the entire workforce of Lufthansa has crash-landed in that place where Harrison Ford goes for refuge in "Witness". Yep, they even get to build something. Use of the chorus (more on that later) is very linear and unimaginative. In the swordfight, which looks incongruous, to put it kindly, men wear bags on their heads. Frightfully clever, of course, until you ask, "Why?" and see there is no intellectual substance to these gimmicks. All this is typical Richard Jones (director). After all, his ROH Ring Cycle looked as if it were set in Trawsfynydd power station. There is rather a lot of the supernatural in Wagner, but you wouldn't guess it from a Jones production. The other major problem here (I alluded to it just above) is the chorus. Wagner wrote superb music for the operatic choir and this, Lohengrin, is a fabulous example of his talents. The chorus in this recording has much less of an impact than it would have had in the opera house. I don't think it is the fault of the singers. The sound is recessed because of the recording engineers and possibly because of the determination of Jones to shunt the chorus constantly back-stage. The soloists and the orchestra are recorded well, so the failure to do justice to the chorus is a black mark. It's not a production so irritating that I can't watch it again and it does have some outstanding performances, so I don't regret buying this, but it's only a three-star production over all: great performance, let down by a daft, unimaginative production and poor recording (this is DECCA - what's Culshaw's ghost thinking?).
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Building Production, 2 Nov 2010
This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
The weird building a house take on this production will either turn you off or you go with it. It's worth going with for the music performances. The cast all seem to be young and sound and look good. Kaufmann is a star. Not sure he always looks happy about what he is doing but that voice. His third act aria In Ferne Land is brilliant...no wonder Bayreuth hired him. The rest are all of a high standard. I found the conducting straight forward but others might disagree. So if you can put up with the production ( I just didnt really get it ) then go for it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars AN UNMITIGATED DISASTER.!!!, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I have collected, listened and watched many, many Wagner operas over the years and have never shied away from or indeed dismissed any 'modern' productions or the whims of any producer or director. Indeed many of the productions which were lambasted or laughed at have now become Wagnerian classics ie the late Patrice Chereau/Boulez Ring. This offering however has no redeeming features whatsoever! Even the glorious voice of Jonas Kaufmann and the unexpected excellent conducting of Kent Nagano cannot save it. Herr Kaufmann looks very suitably embarrassed as, dressed in t-shirt, trainers and track suit bottoms he toils away at bricklaying surrounded by noblemen with bags not only on their heads but also covering their hands. Like the King's New Coat there will always be someone who claims they they have superior intellect and can grasp the hidden meanings and intent. To waste Richard Wagner's wonderful music on this and ask an artist of the quality of Kaufmann to take part is appalling.
If you want to see how great Lohengrin can be watch the superb Peter Schneider - Prey - Studer DVD. For a wonderful 'modern' production watch the stunning Nagano - Klaus Florian Vogt DVD.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lohengrin in the village, 21 July 2010
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Most people would buy this for the chance to hear the fine singers, and they are all very good, but the impression left is dulled by the mockery of the production. The producer, Richard Jones, is an appalling talent. 10th century Antwerp? No, just 1930's Germany, with the Herald as a radio announcer,and Elsa as a girl working on a building site. Lohengrin, the Knight comes in black jeans and a light blue T-shirt, and there are more idiocies that make nonsense of the sung text. The balance favours the voices over the orchestra, they may be playing well, and Kent Nagano may be conducting well, but they are not given much pominence. The best thing to do with this set would be to listen to it with the picture off. Having recently attended a concert performance in Birmingham which was much more satisfactory in every way, leaves me even more dissatisfied with this effort. Does Richard Jones have, like so many Englishmen, no knowledge of German history before 1930? The production displays his ignorance!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars My view of Lohengrin, 19 July 2010
By 
Mr. Mark H. Bredon (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Musically, this is a splendid production. The singing of Jonas Kaufmann as Lohengrin is simply wonderful.
Also the photography is well lit and very clear and sharp. But oh dear, the production is just a nonsense, it looks as though it was designed by Ikea and came in flatpacks. I am prepared to put up with this just for the wonderful singing, also the sound of the orchestra beautifully played, and well conducted by Kent Nagano is beyond reproach. If this DVD had proper staging and not the silliness we see, it would be way ahead the best production available.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did The Orchestra Tune Up For The Prelude?, 7 April 2014
By 
P. S. JONES (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
A superb cast, brilliantly sung, a chorus you can hardly hear, a tiresome 'postmodern' production outdated by its very approach, and the most atrocious intonation during the Prelude to Act 1.

Kaufmann is utterly superb, as are the rest of the main cast, but like another reviewer here I found myself wanting to look away and just listen after about an hour. I'm not opposed to operas in different settings and somehow it does work but only to give the impression that it's set in another world. Bobby socks, plaits and blazers certainly give the chorus a 1930s German 'look' but that's not the point.

The idea of the production 'building the house' is original and I'm not really bothered about that; the set and designs are just so dull, uninspired, and lifeless.

Five stars for the soloists, one for the production and two for the Prelude!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Richard Jones - verb sap., 6 May 2014
This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
This is directed by Richard Jones; that's really all you need to know. Instead, I strongly recommend either the Domingo/Studer dvd version, or that directed by Werner Herzog, which is quite recent.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent staging given superb performance from Munich, 16 Jun 2010
By 
J. Aitken (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
Richard Jones' production of Lohengrin from the 2009 Munich Festival had a mixed reception. Some audience members were very unimpressed, not to say infuriated, by Jones' depiction of a post war Bavaria, eagerly anticipating the arrival of a new Fuhrer, although reaction to the singers was extremely positive.

Having attended a couple of performances I thought Jones had prepared a Lohengrin for our times in one of most intelligent stagings I have ever seen of this opera. He had brought together one of the finest casts available today, with the added excitement for many of seeing Jonas Kaufmann's first essay at the title role.

The result, for me, was a wonderful and exciting evening in the theatre and this excitement is caught brilliantly in this new DVD from Decca ( shame it's not on blu ray!!) The video direction, for once, enhances the experience as the camera views the proceedings from angles front back and above the stage, and much of the opera is filmed in close up. The result is breathtaking. Kaufmann, Anja Harteros, Michaela Schuster et al are so committed to their roles and the production that the close ups are completely successful. This is what happens when singing actors of such a high calibre are brought together.

The singing is of an exceptionally high standard, filled with nuance and dramatic credibility and all in all this must rank as one of the finest Lohengrin's available. Highly recommended
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but overall a good show, 10 April 2013
By 
Iain C. Davidson "iain1825" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I like 'Lohengrin' very much - wonderful music and an interesting story BUT I expect it must present quite a challenge to stage. Much of the opera, especially Act 1, is quite static and there is the question of what to do with the chorus. Many productions have them stand pretty much immobile in either medieval or nondescript modern dress on either side of the principals and that is pretty much what Richard Jones does with them here. Anything more complex by way of stage activity is undertaken by silent actors and, in this production, they are largely employed as building labourers (apart from the few dressed as budding nazis, rugby team or businessmen) because the design concept presented here is the building of a starter home for Elsa and Lohengrin - impressively designed by Elsa herself! The home is built throughout the first two acts and is complete by act three. Elsa does much of the building herself and spends most of the first two acts dressed in dungarees (although curiously, her assistants are expected to lay bricks dressed as what appears to be Butlins yellowcoats) before changing into a Bavarian wedding dress for her ceremony. Lohengrin appears from mysterious parts in a blue T-shirt and black jeans but adopts traditional Bavarian dress for his wedding. At the end of the opera he adds trackie bottoms and silver trainers to his ensemble! Interestingly, the chorus and actors also dress in blue T-shirts in the third act - perhaps in homage to their new hero? To be honest, even after reading the programme notes, I had difficulty with the 'concept'. The first two acts are pretty ugly and none of it really makes a lot of sense, although I must admit that the finished house is very attractive. I also found myself wondering if they were a little premature with all the baby paraphernalia brought into the house on the wedding night itself. To me, 'Lohengrin' is essentially a medieval fantasy with a maiden in distress, a mysterious hero and a couple of fun but cardboard villains with a central theme of trusting in the one you love and a clash of faith and magic both black and white. I'm not sure that much else (including the political situation in Brabant that Jones seems to concentrate too much on) really matters all that much.

That said, I enjoyed this production on the whole for two reasons. Firstly, its generally very well sung and, secondly, it is also very well acted. I may not agree with Jones' concept or his rather silly designs BUT he does direct his principals extremely well and gets to the heart of the drama through them. Jonas Kaufmann is just superb in the title role - sounding and looking wonderful and gives a truly committed performance, he is truly astonishing throughout all of Act 3! In the less grateful role of Elsa, Anja Harteros doesn't get to do much other than look rapt or stunned but she is also very handsome and sings very well indeed. Michaela Schuster acts Ortrud very well indeed (the action really takes off in this piece when the villains are on stage) and sings it pretty well too even if her voice is not as strong as a Ludwig or a Gwyneth Jones. Wolfgang Kock as Telramund is rather less exciting as is Christof Fischesser in the smaller but still important role of the King. To be honest, in key scenes such as the Ortrud/Telramund/Elsa scenes in Act 2 and the Lohengrin/Elsa scene in Act 3, the scenery doesn't really matter as you become so absorbed in the drama created by the soloists themselves and that's what makes this DVD an overall success. Yes, you may find the scenery and the costumes and much of the stage direction a bit annoying to start with but the core drama will win you over in the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lohengrin dvd, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Lohengrin: Bayerisches Staatsorchester[DVD] [2010] (DVD)
I was very impressed with Kaufmann's abilites in both singing and acting but the modernistic way the opera was set I found dissapointing. I'm sure Wagner did imagine the principals would spend so much time housebuilding.
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