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Huddled at the foot of the sloping path to the cathedral, Ortrud has nerved Telramund to
revenge his defeat, so that they join in a hideous oath of evil destruction
[watch and listen -- DVD2 chapter 5, 17:45-19:08].
It was not for nothing that Wagner tackled Act 2 last of the three: in this scene he writes
music drama before starting to preach about it. Ortrud knows it is her task to tackle Elsa
and sow in her mind seeds of doubt that will germinate towards her asking Lohengrin the fatal
question. Her claim to precedence in the cathedral procession almost comes to fisticuffs between
the two women; but Elsa is sufficiently rattled to leave Ortrud in the ascendant
[watch and listen -- DVD2 chapter 16, 53:54-55:10].
Solveig Kringelborn as Elsa in 'Lohengrin'. DVD screenshot © 2006 Festspielhaus Baden-Baden/NHK/Opus Arte
After a spiffing prelude to Act 3 from Kent Nagano and the Deutsches SO, Berlin (he launches
his team with a knowing smile), the curtain reveals Mr and Mrs Lohengrin in their drawing-room.
The husband is at the grand piano, perhaps attempting to revise the work so that it should end
less catastrophically. Poor Elsa ranges the room more and more neurotically. It is obvious she
is afraid Lohengrin will disappear as mysteriously as he arrived. Knights of the grail clearly
make difficult husbands, and Elsa's question seems on the face of it as harmless as Desdemona's
dropped handkerchief. All that can be said for Elsa is that she probably lived miserably
[watch and listen -- DVD3 chapter 8, 20:45-22:09].
Copyright © 29 March 2007
Robert Anderson, London UK