Following the great critical and public success of Tannhäuser last year, Melbourne Opera is returning to the Regent Theatre to stage a new production of Richard Wagner’s magnificent romantic opera Lohengrin, for three performances only in August 2017.
Not performed in Melbourne for 15 years, Lohengrin will see an extended company of over 160 singers and musicians fill the Regent Theatre with the powerful sound of opera for the second time in history, and in the inspired hands of director Suzanne Chaundy, whose production of Tannhäuser was such a success.
“Wagner set Lohengrin, his version of the myth of the Swan Knight, at a time of enormous change in Germany, as the disparate country sought unification of its peoples and religion,” says Chaundy. “Inspiration for this production is drawn from the sense fragility and the ephemeral (the ephemeral nature of power, joy, love and life) permeating the work.”
“Fragility is present from the outset as the shimmering strings of the prelude transport us to a distant and yet familiar world. This story is set over just two days and nights. We see how, in the blink of an eye, the fate of a person and a whole nation can change.”
Suzanne’s production suggests the early tenth century and uses cutting edge contemporary technology to create a transformative and mysterious world. Digital artist Yandell Walton is making her debut with Melbourne Opera, creating unique video and projection art for Lohengrin. Yandell’s works have been exhibited at Melbourne Festival, VIVID Festival Sydney, White Night Melbourne and internationally.
Returning to the Regent Theatre to perform the title role following his celebrated performance as Tannhäuser, international Wagnerian Marius Vlad is considered one of only twenty voices worldwide that are capable of singing the powerful and demanding title roles in Wagner’s operas.
Globally acclaimed Australian opera star Helena Dix is returning to her hometown to perform the leading female role of Elsa von Brabant. For the first time in fourteen years, Helena will grace Melbourne audiences with the voice that carried her outstanding international career to Europe’s most celebrated opera houses and to the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House (the Met) in New York.
Helena has just completed covering a title role at the Met led by one of the world’s best conductors James Levine, and is equally excited to be making her Lohengrin debut and returning to her hometown to perform it. “It was so touching to be asked to sing at home again, where it all began and surrounded once again by family and friends that I grew up with,” says Dix.
“When I won the Wagner prize a few years ago and got to attend Bayreuth for the first time and sing for Richard Wagner’s family I knew it was the start of something magic for me. Lohengrin was the first opera I saw there. As soon as the orchestra played the overture I just sat there and cried. I was so overwhelmed and so excited to be starting my Wagner journey.”
Other cast includes Sarah Sweeting (who received a Green Room Nomination for her performance as Venus in Tannhäuser) as the evil Ortrud, while Icelandic helden baritone Hrólfur Saemundsson makes his Australian debut as Telramund. Celebrated Melbourne Opera regulars Eddie Muliaumaseali’i and Phillip Calcagno perform the roles of Heinrich der Vogler (Henry the Fowler) and Der Heerufer respectively.
David Kram and Greg Hocking conduct the 80 strong Melbourne Opera Chorus and 82 piece Melbourne Opera Orchestra. Lohengrin contains some of Wagner’s most famous arias and stirring ensembles, including the famous Wedding Chorus, Overture and Prelude to Act 3, and Lohengrin’s moving In Fernem Land and Mein lieber Schwann. The opera will be sung in German with English subtitles.
Regent Theatre, Collins Street, Melbourne
Performances: 7, 10 & 12 August 2017 – 7.00pm
Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton
Performance: Saturday 19 August 2017 – 7.00pm
For more information, visit: www.melbourneopera.com.au for details.
Image: Melbourne Opera presents Lohengrin (supplied)