Wagner: Lohengrin / Vogt, Kringelborn, Nagano, Berlin Deutsches SO [Blu-ray]

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*** This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD or HD DVD players. ***

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Lohengrin (1850)


WAGNER Lohengrin Kent Nagano, cond; Klaus Florian Vogt ( Lohengrin ); Solveig Kringelborn ( Elsa ); Tom Fox ( Telramund ); Waltraud Meier ( Ortrud ); Hans-Peter König ( Heinrich ); Roman Trekel ( King’s Herald ); EuropaChor Akademie Mainz; Lyon Natl Op Ch; German SO Berlin OPUS ARTE 7026 (2 Blu-ray Discs: 279:00) Live: Baden-Baden 6/2006

& Documentary: Never Shalt Thou Ask of Me

I enthusiastically welcomed this 2006 performance back in Fanfare 30:5, and my regard for it has only increased since then. The Opus Arte DVD set made my 2007 Want List and I’ve returned with pleasure to stage director Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s view of Lohengrin many times. There’s no point in rehashing a detailed account of the joint Baden-Baden/Lyon/La Scala production—subscribers can go to the Fanfare online Archive—but I will reiterate that the cast is pretty much perfect. Solveig Kringelborn’s soprano is small, sad, and pure when we first meet her in act I; she becomes warmly womanly as she begins her ill-fated wedding night in act III. No one’s better at representing Wagner’s Bad Girls—Venus, Ortrud, and Kundry—than Waltraud Meier, who radiates a Haganesque malevolence at the outset of the second act. Tom Fox portrays a remarkably sympathetic and powerfully sung Telramund; Hans-Peter König is an authoritative yet immensely likable Heinrich. There’s even the luxury of a singer of Roman Trekel’s stature for the not-exactly-critical part of the King’s Herald. Topping off this stellar ensemble is Klaus Florian Vogt: his gleaming (but never steely) and yielding (but firmly supported) tenor is ideal for the title role. Kent Nagano conducts a youthful Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin with élan and sensitivity. The chorus is outstanding.

The opera was shot live on high-definition film and, in my Want List entry, I wondered, “dare we hope for an HD DVD or Blu-ray release?” Two years later, here it is. Good as the DVD was, visually, the Blu-ray is an order of magnitude better. Watching the original release, one thought, “this is an awfully good-looking DVD.” Watching the Blu-ray is more like looking through a clean rectangular window into the actual event; the colors are richer and the amount of natural detail is amazing. (Maybe we get a little more detail than is strictly necessary—for instance, the spittle that issues forth from Roman Trekel’s mouth when he commands “Come forward!” in act I.) Sonically, the 5.1 surround program is in better-than-CD quality 48 kHz PCM. Off-stage instruments are convincingly distant and the relationship of the singers to the orchestra is equally realistic. The most complex passages—act I’s pre-sword-fight quintet with chorus, for instance—are exceptionally intelligible. Opus Arte gets the entire opera, plus the 68-minute Reiner E. Moritz documentary Never Shalt Thou Ask of Me onto two Blu-ray Discs, as opposed to three conventional DVDs for the original release. We get the same five subtitle languages, illustrated synopsis, and superfluous “cast gallery” as the DVD set. Should you unwrap a new Blu-ray player this holiday season, Opus Arte’s Lohengrin should be among your very first software acquisitions.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint

Elsa: Solveig Kringelborn (soprano); Ortrud: Waltraud Meier (mezzo); Lohengrin: Klaus Florian Vogt (tenor); Heinrich der Vogler: Hans-Peter König (baritone); Telramund: Tom Fox (baritone); Herald: Roman Trekel (baritone)
EuropaChorAkademie Mainz
Chorus of the National Opera of Lyon
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Kent Nagano
Nikolaus Lehnhoff (director)
Stephan Braunfels (set design)
rec. Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, June 2006

Picture: 16:9; 1080i
Region code: 0 (all regions)
Sound: PCM 2.0 and 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: OA BD7026D

  • UPC: 809478070269

  • Label: Opus Arte

  • Composer: Richard Wagner

  • Conductor: Kent Nagano

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Berlin Deutches Symphonie Orchester, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Europa Chorakademie, Lyon Opera Chorus

  • Performer: Hans-Peter König, Klaus Florian Vogt, Roman Trekel, Solveig Kringelborn, Tom Fox, Waltraud Meier