Siegfried Köhler
Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera Stockholm
25 February 1989
Royal Opera House Stockholm
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Heinrich der VoglerSten Wahlund
LohengrinThomas Sunnegårdh
Elsa von BrabantMariAnne Häggander
Friedrich von TelramundBjörn Asker
OrtrudBerit Lindholm
Der Heerrufer des KönigsAnders Bergström
Vier brabantische EdleMagnus Kyle
Hans Dornbusch
Magnus Lindén
Anders Lorentzen

In many ways Gotz Friedrich’s new Lohengrin (February 25) is the best production of the ROYAL OPERA for quite a time. Friedrich’s direction contributed enormously to many of the top performances, not least the breakthrough of Thomas Sunnegardh, who emerged a light Heldentenor that many an opera house might envy. He is physically ideal as the Swan Knight, with a sensitive and lyrical but also expressive voice. Anita Soldh, Elsa in the second cast (March II) gave ample evidence of knowing where the essentials of the text are to be found, and shares Friedrich’s conviction that Elsa is the focal point of the drama. In general the first cast had a wider scope and vocally a more dramatic impact with MariAnne Haggander as Elsa and Bjorn Asker as Telramund, whereas the second cast with the promising and generally pleasing Canadian Ben Heppner (Lohengrin) and especially Tord Wallstrom (Telramund) was clearer and more intimate, closer to the text and at times more revealing.

What could not be faulted on the opening night was the orchestra conducted by the veteran Siegfried Kohler, playing with a power and precision probably unsurpassed in Stockholm Wagner since Rudolf Kempe’s matchless Ring in the 1970s. (Kohler will now take a more permanent responsibility for the conducting at the Royal Opera but the formal title of his post is not yet clear.) That the choral singing left something to be desired was probably due to an occasional lack of contact between pit and part of the stage. The main problem rests with the sets by Andreas Reinhardt and the costumes by Kathrine Hysing. Act 1 is clear and well organized, and I rather liked the optical illusion of a wall and open sky in Act 2. The beginning of Act 3, however, is really unacceptable with its tasteless reminiscences of a planetarium which incredibly also houses a huge swansdown-covered wedding bed.

Among the costumes is the usual array of uniforms, mostly shabby long military coats of World War I. I do not think that this adds much to Friedrich’s intention to link the opera closely to German history, and to war-ridden Central Europe of all periods.

This is the last new production of the Royal Opera before it closes for repair during most of the Autumn. It will reopen in December with a new opera by Bjorn Wilho Hallberg (music) and Karin Boldemann (libretto): May Days (i.e. May 1945 in Germany).

HANS WOLF | July 1989

User Rating
Media Type/Label
HO 82063
Technical Specifications
224 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 324 MByte (MP3)
Some breaks due to tape turning
Broadcast (P2)
A production by Götz Friedrich (premiere)