Opera in Cinema presents LOHENGRIN, Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy, an Opera in Three Acts, music by Richard Wagner, Captured live in performance on Opening Night, December 7, 2012, Sunday, January 20, 2013, Sung in German with English subtitles. Running time - 275 minutes, including two intermissions.
The first production of "Lohengrin" was in Weimar, Germany, on August 28, 1850 at the Staatskapelle Weimar under the direction of Franz Liszt, a close friend and early supporter of Richard Wagner. Liszt chose the date in honor of Weimar's most famous citizen, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, born August 28 in 1749. Wagner's deeply romantic opera about a chivalrous but anonymous knight marked his first exploration of leitmotifs, a musical innovation that changed the history of opera. "Lohengrin" was an immediate popular success.
Music and Libretto: Richard Wagner; Conductor: Daniel Barenboim; Director: Claus Guth; Sets and costumes: Christian Schmidt; Lighting: Olaf Winter; Video: Andy Müller; Dramaturgy: Ronny Dietrich.
The cast features: Heinrich der Vogler: René Pape; Lohengrin: Jonas Kaufmann; Elsa von Brabant: Annette Dasch; Friedrich von Telramund: Tomas Tomasson; Ortrud: Evelyn Herlitzius; Der Heerrufer des Königs: Zeljko Lucic
In 10th century Antwerp, Elsa von Brabant stands accused by Count Telramund of murdering her young brother Gottfried in order to become Duchess. Telramund, the late child-Duke's guardian, asks King Heinrich der Vogler to name him Duke. Unable to decide, the King defers to God's judgment through ordeal by combat between Telramund and Elsa's defender. When asked who will be her champion, she describes a knight she has dreamt of. A boat, drawn by a swan, appears bearing the Knight, who agrees to be Elsa's champion on condition that she never ask his name or origins. The battle ensues; the Knight wins but spares Telramund's life. Elsa is declared innocent, and the King grants the Knight Elsa's hand in marriage.
A Herald announces that Telramund and his wife the pagan witch Ortrud are banished. The Knight has been offered the Dukedom, but has declined, preferring the title "Protector of Brabant." After their marriage ceremony, Elsa and the Knight are escorted to the bridal chamber where Elsa, fearing the prospect of which Ortrud had warned her --- that the Knight could desert her at any time since his identity is unknown --- asks her husband the fatal question; before the Knight can answer, Telramund and co-conspirators burst in and attack him. After killing Telramund the Knight takes Elsa to the King and reveals his mystery: He is Lohengrin, Knight of the Holy Grail, son of King Parsifal sent to protect an unjustly accused woman. Now that his identity has been revealed, he must retire from all human society.
The swan reappears; Lohengrin tells Elsa that if she had kept her oath her lost brother would have returned, since the swan was actually Gottfried, transformed by a curse of Ortrud. Lohengrin prays, Gottfied returns to become Duke. A heavenly dove descends and bears Lohengrin away to the castle of the Holy Grail, whereupon Elsa, stricken with grief, dies.