A number of globally-renowned composers have been connected with the history of Prague, either through directly living and working here or paying visits to the city. One such was the giant of music theatre Richard Wagner, who particularly liked Bohemia and would come here regularly from the 1820s to the 1840s. Wagner recalled one such visit, in the summer of 1845: “I took to read Wolfram von Eschenbach’s poems, revised by Simrock and San Marte, and the related epic of Lohengrin, with a long introduction written by Görres. With the book under my arm, I would disappear into the forest, sit down by a brook and, with Titurel and Parcival, revel in the strange, yet so akin and familiar poem by Wolfram.” This is how Wagner recollected the beginning of his work on the text to his opera Lohengrin during his stay in a spa in Mariánské Lázně. He composed the music from May 1846 to April 1848. The opera was first staged at the Herzogliches Hoftheater in Weimar on 28 August 1850, conducted by Franz Liszt, a composer, piano virtuoso and, later on, Wagner’s father-in-law. The first Czech production of Lohengrin was premiered on 23 February 1856 at the Estates Theatre in Prague, conducted by the Kapellmeister František Škroup. At the National Theatre, the opera was first performed on 12 January 1885. Its most recent Prague production was premiered on 17 May 1997 at the State Opera. Wagner’s grandiose Romantic opera about the fight between Good and Evil is set against an atmosphere replete with the mystery veiling an enigmatic hero, who arrives to defend the honour of Elsa, Princess of Brabant. In terms of the music, it was yet another inspired and engrossing step taken by Wagner on his journey towards through-composed music drama, culminating in the opera Parsifal, dealing with Lohengrin’s father. Besides the extremely popular bridal chorus (Treulich geführt), generally known as “The Wedding March”, the opera contains other, no less brilliant, scenes, including Elsa’s dreamy fantasy about a knight who is supposed to arrive so as to save her; Lohengrin and Elsa’s meeting in the wedding chamber; and Lohengrin’s revealing his identity in the narration about the Holy Grail. The new National Theatre production of Lohengrin promises to provide an uplifting experience for every opera fan expecting wonderful music, bold emotions and a thrilling story.
Approximate running time, including intermissions: 4 hours, 50 minutes,
intermissions after Act 1 and Act 2.
Czech and English surtitles.
Premieres 8. and 10.6. 2017
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