[Met Tour] CID:210460

Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Fri, May 19, 1967

Review 1:

Review of John M. Harvey in the St. Paul Minnesota Dispatch

Met's 'Lohengrin' is Superb Opera

The top of the Metropolitan Opera company's local season in esthetic excitement came Friday night in Northrop Auditorium with the new production of Wagner's "Lohengrin."

Double Wagner it was, conceived and staged by the composer's grandson, Wieland Wagner, who died before he could see it to the stage of the company's opera home.

Wieland Wagner, who became famous particularly for his individual application of modern theater concepts to Wagnerian opera, apparently worked on the principle that where the action is in much of his grandfather's works is in the text and music. Instead of fighting the theatrically static qualities of "Lohengrin," he used them.

Except possibly for the Metropolitan's action-packed Zeffirelli production of Verdi's "Falstaff" - at the opposite end of the scale - I have never received such a powerful sense of unity of all elements as in this highly stylized Wagner-Wagner presentation.

There is one basic set, at the same time stark and wonderfully rich, to which simple constructions, hanging, and back projections are added as needed. The overall impression is of medieval stained glass, blues and greens predominating, with accents of scarlet, gold, white and rust.

The chorus, uniformly garbed, is ranged on bleachers, creating a solid motionless mass for much of the opera, against which the principal characters move in stylized manner. The swan and later the dove (and in the wedding scene, a Madonna) appear in stylized form gleaming above through the blue-green background. Drama, music and picture are splendidly integrated.

Friday night's cast was solidest since Monday night's [first performance]. Resplendent in gold from top to toe, Sandor Konya sang the title role of the swan knight with force, flexibility, clarity, and excellent control.

Lovely round tone, brightening at the top, sensitive phrasing and command of long, lyric line distinguished the Elsa of Elisabeth Grummer. Her substitution in the role for the originally announced Leonie Rysanek was, I think, an improvement.

Irene Dalis as Ortrud used her superb, grandly-scaled contralto thrillingly in a vivid vocal characterization of evil.

Walter Cassel's instincts as a dramatic actor could not be contained with the stylized frame. He kept breaking out into more naturalistic patterns, which put him a bit out of key (not musically), with the rest of the picture. But this was a minor fault balanced against his intense, ringing vocalism and musical characterization of Telramund.

Raymond Michalski's bass voice is not a very dark one, but it is clear and solid and his King Henry was dignified and virile. The quite extensive part of the herald was sung admirably by Ron Bottcher, a young member of the company with a fresh bass-baritone of fine quality and intelligence to match.

Joseph Rosenstock's conducting was sound and well paced if not exceptional. The orchestra had a rough playing here and there, but generally turned in a good job.

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