A symbolic Lohengrin in Buenos Aires

 ArgentinaArgentina  Wagner, Lohengrin: Soloists, Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Colón. Conductor: Ira Levin, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 23.9.2011. (JSJ)


Direction/lighting: Roberto Oswald
Sets: Roberto Oswald and Christian Prego
Costumes: Aníbal Lápiz
Chorus: Peter Burian



Lohengrin: John Horton Murray / Richard Crawley
Elsa de Brabant: Ann Petersen
King Henry: Kurt Rydl
Frederick de Telramund: James Johnson
Ortrud: Janina Baechle
King’s Herald: Gustavo Feulien
Nobles of Brabant: Mathias Schulz, Carlos Ullán, Sebastiano De Filippi, Marcelo Boluña

Janina Baechle (Ortrud), Ann Petersen (Elsa) and James Johnson (Frederick).Photo Courtesy:Teatro Colón

Wagner is always a landmark in an opera season and for the Teatro Colón’s first offering since reopening last year, it was a new production of Lohengrin – a work long awaited for long time regulars, having last been presented 20 years ago.

And this production by veteran producer Roberto Oswald was well up to the mark – on the second evening at least, the first having been marred by a Lohengrin who, according to colleagues, was not up to the role.

Oswald, who has done previous productions of this work, in some here all too infrequent “comentarios” in the program on the work’s symbolism, commented that he portrays Lohengrin as a “dream,” borne out of the accusation to which Elsa is subject, with his departure a return to reality. Thus the production was dominated by blues and whites and the swan a hazy projection that falls out of the sky, and the scenery in general was simple but geometric and with a sense of scale.

Richard Crawley had been programmed as one of the Lohengrins, although even as late as programme production time no dates had been confirmed, but in the event he came in the second production and presumably will complete the run. His is not the largest or darkest of (heldentenor) voices but it is firm and flexible and he projects it well, and along with a certain reserve, imbues the role with a sense of nobility.

The Elsa of Danish soprano Ann Petersen was outstanding in every aspect, her voice bright and her acting convincing. Likewise James Johnson as Frederick, who both vocally and visually projected a sense of pent up energy and drama.

Kurt Rydl made for a commanding Henry, but his voice suffers from heavy vibrato, and Janina Baechle was a suitably scheming Ortrud. The only local soloist, Gustavo Feulien, was adequate as the Herald.

The chorus prepared by Peter Burian sang with gusto and the orchestra under Ira Levin – including a 33 strong offstage orchestra – played well throughout.

Jonathan Spencer Jones