|Lohengrin: - the Wedding|
The Brabantians and the Herald, having cursed Telramund until they were blue in the face, were now brought back to earth from their high testosterone rant by the soothing flutes announcing the approach of Elsa's wedding party. Elsa was to be married on a raked square platform, center stage, about 8 feet above the stage floor.This platform sat atop another, shaped in the form of a cross. The only way onto this platform from the left side of the stage was across a bridge. This bridge was a long hydraulic arm which emerged from a blackened hummock and slowly arced its way over to meet the platform. Elsa's dress towed in its wake a long train, which was held up high by handmaidens. At an opportune moment, dictated by the music, the hitherto unseen Ortrud appeared before Elsa from under this train and stopped the train in its tracks.
Her timing was off, for no sooner had she begun to berate Elsa, than Lohengrin and the King steamed in, each taking his place on one of the four arms of the cross. Lohengrin seemed to "put the wind up her" but with her husband who soon came upon the scene he positively became a "wussy".
That's right....a befuddled and insecure Lohengrin was offered up. I have always thought of him as being secure and James Bond-cool, but here he was visibly shaken by Telramund's charges and was rather panicky. Odd.
Elsa was in the centre of the platform while each of the other principals was on the cross. The poor woman didn't know which way to look. Below this platform hovering above the floor were arrayed the men and women of the chorus.
Even from his perch at the rear of the stage John Tomlinson's magnificent rich bass anchored the quintet firmly.
The wedding would proceed as planned!! Lohengrin joined his bride to be at the head of the procession which now, with the band on fire down below, made its way solemnly to the end of the platform's highest reaches.
A wonderfully staged act which I look forward to seeing again some day.
Back at the restaurant table, while my friends were discussing the act just seen, my mind drifted back to the moment just before I inserted a Lohengrin video into a VCR in my office in New Jersey. I had been working late, and on a break to eat, had wandered into a video store in a shopping mall: there I found a video tape of the Metropolitan Opera's Lohengrin and without knowing a note of it, bought it. I could not wait until I got home later that evening, and so played it on a 9 inch TV, in mono. Later, at home, it appeared on a 32 inch Sony TV through a manly stereo system.
I had gotten to bed late and had had trouble excluding the music from my mind. I did not know at that point that my life was turning in a Wagnerly direction, nor where the music would lead me. As it turned out, it led me to the people who are now my best friends, and led me to 5 years of travelling hither and thither to attend Wagner Operas.
On this balmy July evening as my mind wandered back to the here and now, I found that it had led me to Bayreuth, with those friends just a tablecloth away.
I smelled good. My hair was soft and manageable. I was wearing nice clean clothes and had a full stomach. I breathed deeply. The air tasted sweet. I thought of friends far away, whom I would have loved to have been with us and who would have to make do with postcards, photographs and written reports which would try to capture the flavor of my week in Bayreuth.
There was just one act left and then the musical part of our sojourn would be at an end and only one full day would remain to enjoy the German experience.
To be continued......
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