Wagnerian Score + LA Opera's Creativity + James Conlon's Conducting = Awesome Night Out
Well, not exactly.
Let's just start with set and costumes.
The classic German mythical tale of the god/knight Lohengrin arriving on a swan to champion Elsa, the noblewoman who has been wrongfully accused of fratricide, was set in a snowy field hospital in a ruined church at the eve of World War I. The stage was dark, the costumes were dreary and we all got the reference to the Caspar David Freidrich painting of the Cloister Cemetery in the Snow.
The tale was a struggle over control, isn't it always?
Lohengrin a resurrected soldier saved Elsa, from her foes, then made it all the way to the marriage bed with her. But in usual female fashion, she screwed everything up by her insecurity. She asked the fatal question as to his identity and after he sings the sad story he must get back on his swan and leave giving up his one chance to return to mortality. Naturally, Elsa collapses and dies.
In other words there was no ultimate redemption through love.
My problem with the opera wasn't the singing. It was lovely.
The two sopranos sang exquisitely and the chorus was brilliant.
What I couldn't take was the lack of visual interest.
No matter how beautiful the voices, the set was dark and visually boring after the first 20 minutes.....and the same set is a lot to have to look at for a 4 plus hour opera. And worse, the lead characters were costumed so poorly, particularly Lohengrin, that it made it hard to accept them as hero and heroine.
It was impossible to recognize that this was the opera that inspired the Ludwig II to build Neuschwanstein.
At $250 per ticket the Los Angeles Opera needs to come up with better productions if it wants to attract a new generation of subscribers. If the LA Opera doesn't provide more of a wow factor, the young culture vultures of LA will not fill the seats of the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion.
Soldier? Saint? Sorcerer? Savior?