Daniele Gatti
Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala Milano
30 January 2007
Teatro alla Scala Milano
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Heinrich der VoglerHans-Peter König
LohengrinRobert Dean Smith
Elsa von BrabantAnne Schwanewilms
Friedrich von TelramundTom Fox
OrtrudWaltraud Meier
Der Heerrufer des KönigsDetlef Roth
Vier brabantische EdlePaolo Sala
Giuseppe Bellanca
Guillermo Esteban Bussolini
Lorenzo Cescotti

Gatti and the orchestra save the day After the much discussed Aida, La Scala presented Lohengrin as the season’s second work. Lohengrin has not been seen at La Scala since the 1983 revival of the 1981 Strehler production conducted by Abbado. The current production, directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff, with scenery by Stephan Braunfels and costumes by Bettina Walter, reached Milan after being seen at the Baden-Baden Festival, where it premiered in June 2006, and at Opéra national de Lyon last October.

The lighting, designed by Duane Schuler, played a major role in creating a dreamy atmosphere during the prelude, in which Elsa appeared in the background and slowly crossed the stage. In the first act the sets reproduced the German parliament with the noblemen dressed in military apparel pointing to the Nazi times, while the women of the chorus wore modern everyday clothes (as did the men in the second act). Lohengrin appeared in a silver cloth bearing a helmet. The parliament setting came back in the third act, while in the second act a huge staircase offered the setting for the action. In the end, the arrival of the swan was signaled by the lights that lit the sides of the stage.

Photo: Marco Brescia / Teatro alla ScalaThe first cast featured Robert Dean Smith as Lohengrin, Anne Schwanewilms as Elsa, Tom Fox as Telramund, Waltraud Meier as Ortrud and Hans Peter Koenig as Heinrich. At the dress rehearsal, Waltraud Meier was the best on stage, while Tom Fox performed below expectations. Reportedly, the audience reaction at opening night was mixed.

However, the second cast did not fare much better: Klaus Florian Vogt as Lohengrin displayed a ringing voice and sang with commitment, but he left the impression that he would be better cast in a lighter repertoire. This impression was even stronger in the case of Solveig Kringelborn (Elsa), who displayed a smallish voice. Jurgen Linn as Telramund did not leave any memorable impression, while Linda Watson’s (Ortrud) voice sounded huge, but was often out of control.

Fortunately, the orchestral side was much more satisfying. Daniele Gatti, one of the best Italian conductors for Wagner (in 2008 he will be the fifth Italian to conduct at Bayreuth), conducted Wagner’s masterpiece with great care and deep participation. Under his baton, the orchestra played beautifully: especially the orchestral piani sounded magical and set the action in an appropriately unreal and fabulous atmosphere. The chorus, prepared by Bruono Casoni, also contributed strongly.

Silvia Luraghi | 23 January 2007

User Rating
Media Type/Label
Premiere 2562
Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 491 MByte (MP3)
A production by Nikolaus Lehnhoff